CoughWatchSA

Your health matters!
Tell us how you’re feeling & stop the spread.

This study is proudly partnered with the National Institute For Communicable Diseases Of South Africa.

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CoughWatchSA Explained

What is CoughWatchSA

Together with our participants, CoughWatchSA keeps an eye on respiratory illnesses in South Africa.

Our participants report back on a weekly basis whether they have any symptoms in order to identify possible new strains of flu (and other respiratory infections).

Anyone in South Africa can take part and those who do will get a guaranteed reward each month and entered into monthly cash prizes.

How Does CoughWatchSA Work?

Imagine CoughWatchSA as a friendly community watch group, but instead of keeping an eye out for crime, participants are reporting to the community group on their body’s health on the lookout for sneezes, coughs, and other flu-like symptoms.

✔ The Perks

Besides the good feeling you get from contributing to your community’s health, there are also some tangible perks. Regular participants can receive monthly rewards; there’s even a lucky draw prize for consistent contributors. Plus, it’s all done over a data-free platform, so participating won’t cost you a dime in data.

Here’s a simple rundown of how it all works:

✔ Step 1: Sign Up to Join the Team

Think of it as signing up for a neighbourhood WhatsApp group where the focus is on health. You share a bit about yourself through a simple online questionnaire—nothing too personal, just some basic info to help the team understand who’s contributing to the watch.

✔ Step 2: Weekly Check-ins

Each week, you’ll get a friendly nudge (based on your selction of email or WhatsApp) asking, “How are you feeling?” It’s like a neighbour popping their head over the fence to see if you’re okay. If you’re under the weather, you’ll share your symptoms through a quick, 10-minute online check-in. If not, you can simply say, “All good this week!”

✔ Step 3: Your Reports Make a Difference

Every sneeze, cough, or fever you report helps build a bigger picture of what’s going around in the neighbourhood (i.e., the whole of South Africa). This info helps health experts spot trends, like if the flu is popping up more than usual or if there’s a new bug going around, so they can advise everyone on how to stay healthy.

How To Sign Up For CoughWatchSA

Step 1: Click the Button Below

Step 2: Learn About the Project

Step 3: Read Up and Agree

Step 4: Officially Sign Up

Who should sign up for CoughWatchSA?

Here’s who should consider signing up:

Adults Living in South Africa

Anyone living in South Africa who is 18 years old or above can join. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge, just a willingness to participate.

✔ Individuals Interested in Public Health

If you are interested in public health, participating in CoughWatchSA offers a hands-on opportunity to contribute to important research.

Your involvement can help track and manage the spread of respiratory illnesses, potentially influencing public health policies and interventions.

What Will CoughWatchSA Achieve?

CoughWatchSA is set to be a game-changer in public health surveillance, especially in tracking and understanding respiratory illnesses within South Africa.

✔ Step 1: A Real-Time Health Map

Think of CoughWatchSA as creating a dynamic, constantly updating map of respiratory health across South Africa. This map will show where flu-like symptoms are popping up, how intense they are, and how they move over time.

It’s like weather forecasting, but for illnesses, helping predict “storms” of flu or other outbreaks before they fully hit.

✔ Step 2: Filling the Data Gaps

A lot of people with flu-like symptoms don’t visit doctors or clinics, which means their experiences don’t get counted in official health statistics. CoughWatchSA invites everyone to report their symptoms, filling in these blind spots and giving health authorities a more complete picture of what’s happening on the ground.

✔ Step 3: Quicker Responses to Outbreaks

With more accurate and timely information, health officials can act faster when they see a problem brewing. This could mean alerting the public about an upcoming flu wave, ramping up vaccination drives, or focusing resources on areas hit hardest by respiratory illnesses. Faster responses can lead to fewer people getting sick.

Step 4: Empowering Communities

CoughWatchSA is all about community participation. By contributing to the surveillance effort, people aren’t just passive recipients of health advice; they’re active players in their own health and that of their neighbours. This empowerment can foster a sense of unity and collective responsibility towards public health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CoughWatchSA?

CoughWatchSA is a research project aimed at tracking respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19 across South Africa. By collecting information from participants about their symptoms, it helps us understand and respond to these illnesses better.

How do I sign up?

Signing up is easy! You just need to read the information provided about the project, agree to participate, and then complete a baseline questionnaire about yourself. After that, you’ll participate in weekly check-ins.

What kind of questions will I be asked?

You’ll be asked about basic personal details (like age and where you live), your health status, and any symptoms you might have experienced over the past week. All questions are straightforward and designed to be easy to answer.

Will my information be kept private?

Absolutely. Your privacy is a top priority. Your personal information and health data will be stored securely and kept confidential. Only authorised researchers will access it, and it won’t be shared with anyone else.

Is there any cost to participate?

No, it’s free to participate. Plus, the platform is zero-rated, which means, you won’t use any of your data to access the surveys. Plus, you might be eligible for monthly incentives just for taking part.

Can I stop participating if I change my mind?

Yes, your participation is completely voluntary. You can decide to stop at any time, for any reason, without any penalty.

What are the benefits of participating?

While there’s no direct benefit to you, your participation contributes to a greater understanding of respiratory illnesses in South Africa. This can help with early detection and response to outbreaks. Plus, you might receive monthly incentives for your contributions.

How long will the project run?

CoughWatchSA will run for 5 months between April to September 2024.

Will I get feedback on the study’s findings?

Yes, participants will receive monthly surveillance reports showing trends in the data collected. This feedback will help you see the impact of your contributions to the project.

Our Partners At The NICD

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases is the national public health institute of South Africa, providing reference to microbiology, virology, epidemiology, surveillance and public health research to support the government’s response to communicable disease threats.

They are overseeing this project and you can learn more about them here.

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