A symptom checker app that aims to offer a ‘doctor in your pocket’ has been made available in Swahili.

The app, developed by Ada Health, uses a medical knowledge database with artificial intelligence technology to help users understand what might be causing their symptoms, as well as providing guidance about what they should do next.

Swahili is spoken by over 100 million people across the likes of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Somalia.

By offering an AI-powered symptom-assessment medical application in Swahili, Ada Health is hoping to improve access to quality health information and advice, particularly for young people and families.

The Swahili version of the Ada app has been developed as part of Ada’s Global Health Initiative (GHI), a long-term programme to help address the global shortfall in health workers, by combining AI, human medical expertise and the power of mobile technology to deliver access to health care and guidance at scale.

Ada’s partners in developing and localising the app are Fondation Botnar, a Swiss foundation focused on improving the health and wellbeing of young people in low- and middle-income countries through technology, and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania.

Hila Azadzoy, managing director of the Ada Health Global Health Initiative, said: “Four billion people across the world lack access to basic health services, and many countries – including Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Mozambique – have fewer than 1 physician per 1,000 people.

“Thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technology, there is a huge opportunity for AI to help tackle this issue by improving access for patients and empowering clinicians to have the greatest possible impact.

“However, to be truly effective, these technologies must be adapted to the medical, cultural and linguistic conditions in each region. Working closely with Muhimbili University allowed us to do this for our Swahili app and we’ll be continuing to partner with local experts in East Africa to identify more ways that we can improve access to healthcare.”

Ada Health launched in 2016 with the aim of offering new levels of personalised care and treatment by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with the medical insights of doctors.

In November 2017, it was reported the company had received £35 million funding from a number of private investors.

Ada’s co-founder, Daniel Nathrath, will be speaking at Digital Health Rewired 2020 about how the company has harnessed digital to benefit patients.

Attendance at Rewired on 4 March 2020 at London Olympia is free to all working in the NHS and attendees from start-ups less than three years old.