Tunisia: a robot that assists coronavirus caregivers

A robot has been distributed at one of the most important Tunisian hospitals that take care of patients with Covid-19 to limit contact between caregivers and patients and improve the exchange between patients and families, a first in the country.

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This narrow wheel device, monitored by a screen, is specialized in the medical field: it can measure temperature, heart rate or even oxygen saturation in the blood.

But at Abderrahmane Memmi Hospital in Ariana, near Tunis, the first to be equipped with this kind of equipment in the country, the robot will, above all, let doctors and relatives go to bed practically.

The health crisis has made it possible to show all the usefulness of these techniques, robotics (…) to go to the front line and distance men from risk

“It will reduce contact with the patient and therefore the risk of contamination of the staff,” said Dr. Nawel Besbes Chaouch, head of the pneumology department responsible for infected persons.

“It also facilitates communication with the patient: he will be able to see us on screen without having to put on all our protective equipment, which will prevent him from seeing our faces and recognizing us,” she emphasizes.

A website allows families to reserve a time slot during which the robot will be remotely controlled to the patient’s room to allow a video call, visits are prohibited.

“Right now (…) there is a whole complex of logistics, we are overwhelmed by calls,” says Dr. Chaouch.

The robot – of which a dozen work in Europe, especially in nursing homes in France – is fully designed and manufactured in Tunisia by a newly started base in Sousse (east), Enova, the leading robot company in the region.

A technological leap for this public hospital that first started computerizing medical records two years ago and has only limited internet access.

The robot could be distributed in Tunisia thanks to a donation from a German company established in the country. Enova also made a police robot available for the home office.

“The health crisis has made it possible to show all the benefits of these techniques, robotics (…) to go to the front line and distance men from risk,” said Radhouane Ben Farhat, Enova’s commercial manager.

Tunisian public hospitals, which have been hit by state release and deep handling problems, have benefited from donations to deal with the epidemic in Tunisia, where 998 cases have been officially identified, including 41 deaths.


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