Grant Supports Undergraduate’s Global Health Translation App

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A project by Tinotenda Kuretu ’22 has been selected by the Verizon/Clinton Global Initiative.

Portrait of Tinotenda Kuretu '22 in front of the Dickey Center sign
Tinotenda Kuretu ’22 founded Pora Health, an NGO dedicated addressing health disparities, and health-based poverty traps experienced by marginalized communities, as a Global Health Fellow at the Dickey Center. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Tinotenda Kuretu ’22, a Global Health Fellow at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, was selected for a $23,000 stage 1 award through the Verizon/Clinton Global Initiative 2021 Social Innovation Challenge to develop a translation application to allow health care workers and international aid workers to communicate with patients between any two languages in real time.

Kuretu, an E.E. Just Undergraduate Fellow and a member of West House, says the app, known as Macaw, “was designed with healthcare workers attending to immigrant patients in California, New York, or Florida—or a physician at the frontlines of foreign humanitarian crises—in mind.”

The app will be designed to use technologies such as geolocation, speech recognition, statistical machine translation, machine learning, and location-based service to pair health professionals and any patient needing translation with human translators in real time, says Kuretu, who partnered with undergraduates at Harvard University and Cottey College on the project through the NGO Pora Health.

In 2020, Kuretu founded Pora Health, which is focused on “addressing health disparities, and health-based poverty traps experienced by marginalized and underrepresented communities” in his native Zimbabwe. An economics major with a focus on development and a global health minor, Kuretu says that he has seen how poverty and disparities in health care access result in high death rates from preventable diseases such as malaria and cholera.

“This day that we are living in, people shouldn’t be dying of these things. And too often, the way we are responding is we are trying to catch people while falling. We should also try to prevent people from falling in the first place,” Kuretu says. “How do you do that? You advocate for them, you approach governments, you approach NGOs that can help with preventative care.”

Peter Jenkinson, the global studies coordinator at the Dickey Center, says Kuretu’s passion for global health and economic development has been evident since he first arrived at Dartmouth.

“Since his freshman year, Tino has stood out as a global health leader at the Dickey Center and across campus, not just by helping programs grow, but by creating new organizations and leading the charge among students in the global health sphere,” Jenkinson says.

The Verizon and Clinton Global Initiative Social Innovation Challenge encourages teams of current undergraduate students, graduate students, and Clinton Global Initiative University alumni to develop leading-edge, technology-based solutions to address significant societal challenges related to immersive education, health equity, and climate justice.

Bill Platt