Martha Mwase in collaboration with a local non-governmental organisation has developed a chatbot that shares information on dangers of smoking and on options for smokers looking to quit.
Mwase has told Malawi24 that some smokers find it uncomfortable to talk to about their smoking habits to others as such the online chatbot will help such people and everyone else to confidentially learn and explore quitting options and science proven information on smoking and tobacco harm reduction.
She added that with information readily available in a simple and interactive format, people will also be able to make more informed personal health decisions to replace smoking with safer alternatives
“Chatbots allow users to take control of the information they want to know in real time and in an interactive way,” she explained.
One of Malawi’s Mental Health experts, Chitsanzo Mafuta, said that innovative ways of disseminating science-based information can help to reach out to people who are unaware of new and safer health technologies.
Mafuta noted that health information technology offers many opportunities to improve and transform public health, such as increasing the reach of evidence and people’s ability to use and apply evidence.
The chatbot which carries information on tobacco harm reduction, dangers of smoking and advice for those who would like switch to safer alternatives has been deployed on THR Malawi’s website and will be available to users for the next 12 months.
Each year, almost seven million more people die from smoking than from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also states that almost a million people in Malawi are active tobacco user and further estimates that more than 5, 800 Malawians die from smoking related diseases every year.
However, a significant percentage of the Malawian population is unaware of the emerging technologies that deliver nicotine in a less harmful form.
Lack of information on the technologies is a hindrance to the adoption of the safer products.