ALMA, Guatemalan chatbot to answer about COVID-19

ALMA (Automated Medical Logistics Assistant) is a free service developed by the Fundación Desarrolla Guatemala para la Educación y Salud (FUNDEGUA), with the aim of providing the Guatemalan population with an intelligent and friendly information system that can provide comprehensive information on COVID-19; giving a deep answer to user queries, beyond the daily recommendations or hygiene measures that circulate. All this through a chat conversation with a virtual assistant implemented on the Facebook page and the FUNDEGUA web portal.

What’s ALMA?

ALMA was born with the idea of ​​a group of young Guatemalans who, reacting to what was happening around the world and the needs that the health system in Guatemala could present, devised an artificial intelligence tool to answer queries about COVID- 19, seeking to expand the coverage of truthful information available to Guatemalans in all parts of the country. Its mission is to prevent disinformation and automatically respond to any queries related to COVID-19.

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To give life to ALMA, we had the support of a multidisciplinary medical team made up of international experts from the Universities of Standford, Columbia and Denver. The project brought together various professionals in different branches of medicine (pulmonologists, pediatricians), technology (systems engineers, artificial intelligence, chatbots), anthropology and community health; as well as the support of organizations and companies such as United Volunteers in Catastrophes (VOLUNCA) and (CONESA) BCW.

“As FUNDEGUA we believe that development is possible when we base research, connect with people, build for the population, and adapt to the reality of the country. Along this path, we find that technology is an opportune ally to expand communication maps, and prevent disinformation from leading us to fear or to making confusing decisions. This is how ALMA arises, a chatbot, which as of today will be our ally throughout the national territory, whose purpose is to inform, answer questions that are not so frequent and that arise as we experience changes or new news in the day to day” , stated Gabriela Asturias, president and co-founder of FUNDEGUA.

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The most important thing for the Guatemalan population is that ALMA returns comprehensive answers to the user, based on the scientific basis. The joint effort is backed by a group of doctors, who, aware of the different questions surrounding COVID-19 and its progress, developed a questionnaire with more than 100 responses that will be provided through the chatbot.

How does it work?

Talking with ALMA is completely secure, no personal information is requested and no application download is necessary. The user should only enter the page of Facebook or web of FUNDEGUA:

  • Identify the chat option
  • Send a message
  • The user interacts with ALMA and makes the inquiries he needs
  • ALMA is available to answer free questions about: characteristics of the COVID-19 virus, diagnosis of COVID-19, personal hygiene and cleanliness, statistics on COVID-19, groups risk, immunity to COVID-19, COVID-19 management and treatment, effects of COVID-19 on the body, prevention of COVID-19, symptoms and severity of COVID-19, transmission of COVID-19, precautions when leaving home , pets, personal protective equipment, COVID Guatemala tests, home cleaning, government assistance, among others.
  • ALMA also has a menu of options where you can explore: report of official cases from Guatemala and the world, causes to donate and support in COVID-19, frequently asked questions, among others.
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While the interaction occurs, the system collects information about the most frequently asked questions and the data that needs to be expanded, in this way it is continuously updated under the supervision of experts in medicine and technology, in order to make it proactive and continuously more efficient in results for the user.

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