Department of Health
23 April 2020-present
Digitization & New Technologies, and Perspectives on Productivity, Governance, and Development
KIRA (Knowledge Informs Responsible Action / Katuwang na Impormasyon para sa Responsableng Aksyon) Kontra COVID is an automated chatbot launched by the Department of Health (DOH) to help disseminate critical information regarding COVID-19 to the public and facilitate self-checking for the disease via Facebook messenger, Viber, and the Kontra COVID PH webapp. TANOD COVID performs a similar function through SMS, providing even easier and wider accessibility for potential users.
Background and Problem
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines in the first quarter of 2020, the national government had to face a healthcare crisis that was made worse by misinformation and confusion regarding the quarantine protocols being implemented, the options available to citizens for testing and treatment, and even the disease itself—particularly its symptoms and risk factors.
Solution and Impact
After extensive consultations and development, the DOH, through its Health Promotion Bureau and Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service, KIRA KontraCOVID on 30 April 2020. KIRA is an automated chatbot that allows citizens to access important information on COVID-19 via an interactive interface that emphasizes user-friendliness and understandability.
Screenshot of KIRA on different platforms (website, Viber, Messenger) (Source: Department of Health)
Apart from simple information dissemination, KIRA also provides a digital triage function where citizens can report their symptoms and receive advice on what actions need to be taken next. KIRA is able to process this information by asking self-assessment questions that would identify one’s health condition, mild or severe symptoms, date of onset of symptoms, existing vulnerabilities, and level of exposure to COVID. This then allows the program to categorize and tag users as either low risk, a probable case, a suspected mild case, or a suspected moderate to severe case. This assessment, however, is not designed or intended to take the place of a medical consultation or an actual COVID test.
Screenshot of KIRA Triage Results (Source: Department of Health)
Although KIRA is intended to maximize the reach and accessibility of COVID-19 information by its availability on popular online platforms such as Facebook and Viber, it is limited by its dependence on the internet connectivity of its users. As a contingency for this, the DOH also launched TANOD COVID, an SMS-based self-reporting system accessible through the country’s major telecommunications services.
Screenshot of TANOD COVID Reporting via text message (Source: Department of Health)
Reports coming in from KIRA and TANOD COVID are compiled in the Kontra COVID PH database, which can then be accessed by local government units (LGUs), processed, and validated. The compiled cases can be filtered according to the severity of symptoms, the status of verification, and the date received.
PH Kontra COVI D Database Process Flow (Source: Department of Health)
Screenshot of PH Kontra COVID Dashboard for LGUs (Source: Department of Health)
Screenshot of PH Kontra COVID LGU Verification Process (Source: Department of Health)
As of December 16, 2021, KIRA has 1.2 million total subscribers on Facebook Messenger and Viber. It has processed over 32 million bot interactions, addressed 132,424 inquiries sent by users, and facilitated 163,913 self-assessments.
KIRA has since been enhanced to deliver updates on registration for vaccines, vaccination cards/certificates, and access to vaccines across different LGUs. It also has emphasized fighting misinformation regarding vaccine indications and contraindications, their safety for breastfeeding mothers, and other critical information that needs to be corrected or clarified to the public.