In Tunisia, artificial intelligence and robots in the face of the pandemic

En Tunisie, intelligence artificielle et robots face à la pandémie

Tunis | Robot able to sort the patients, analysis of radios by artificial intelligence, decoding the genome of the virus, research on a vaccine: the pandemic of sars coronavirus has started in Tunisia with a host of advanced in support of the fragile public health services.

In the school of engineering of Sousse, south of Tunis, the traditional end of the year project in school was all found: design a machine oxygen manufacture locally, at the request of the government.

In effect, the hospitals are poorly equipped and the costs and the delivery times have blown up.

“Students, teachers and hospital doctors have developed a prototype that works,” emphasizes Aref Meddeb, director of the school. “This is the first time we produce this machine in Tunisia. This proves that there is a real potential here: what lack of habit, it is the confidence and the means which have been given to us during this crisis.”

Other researchers tunisians have developed a plan of respirator simplified because of components printable 3D elements and easy to buy. In open access, it will allow in particular to african countries, some of which have only a handful of these facilities, from the manufacture themselves.

“We are all in a state of alert because we want to save lives,” said Khalil Allouch, an engineering student, who participates in another project respirator local.

“We use everything we find in “open source” (note: work free of copyright) and the skills of an engineer of tunisian specialized in ventilators resuscitation. An “open source” alone!” quips he. “This crisis shows us that we can be more self-reliant.”

Tunisia every year thousands of doctors and engineers with qualifications that are recognized internationally. But due to the lack of wage outlook and entrepreneurial local, many of them emigrate.


Although the laboratories are overwhelmed with tests to perform, Tunisia was one of the first countries in the region to decode the genome of the viruses circulating locally, a necessary step for developing a vaccine.

The Pasteur Institute of Tunis is one of the few institutions in Africa to conduct preliminary research for a vaccine.

“Other countries are at more advanced stages, but this does not guarantee that we would have access to these vaccines rapidly,” said Hechmi Louzir, director of this Institute. “We are fortunate to have people who have these skills. If we do that, it would be extraordinary.”

Side diagnosis, a tool of artificial intelligence designed into an engineering school is in the process of validation to instantaneously measure the probability that a person is reached the virus from simple x-rays of the lungs. This could serve to underprivileged areas devoid of medical facilities capable of carrying out tests.

“The crisis has laid bare,” admitted the prime minister Elyes Fakhfakh at the television, but she has “unveiled the strong expertise” in the field of information technology and communications (ICT) and artificial intelligence. “After the coronavirus, we will rebuild on this basis”, he said, while the economy suffers from prevention measures.

The government has launched a virtual fair where are presented the various innovations and medical technologies developed against the Covid-19.

Even the administrations most resistant to digital are in the process of dematerialisation of certain steps.

Thus, the ministry of the Interior has issued clearances via an internet platform.

The ministry of Health uses an application that is designed recently by students and their teachers to identify the number of beds available and be able to organize if needed transfer of patients or the deployment of emergency beds additional.

A remote-controlled robot by the police, who patrol the streets to enforce the containment, has already made about him.

But its designer, the tunisian company Enova, does not stop there: one of his robots-guards autonomous is being adapted to allow to patients in serious condition to speak with their loved ones. Another is developed in order to help, via artificial intelligence, to make a first sorting of patients arriving at the hospital.

“We are not yet overwhelmed”, explains Dr. Jalila Ben Khelil, deputy head of the main department of resuscitation Covid in the country. But “we must explore all avenues to get out of them.

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