Words by Fudge Santos
Have you ever had a question about your body you’re too embarrassed to ask anyone about that you end up just secretly Googling it? What if I told you that you don’t have to feel embarrassed to ask anymore?
A new AI chat-bot named Mara is now available on Facebook messenger and can answer questions about women’s bodies, reproductive health, and family planning options for Filipinas. It is named Mara, derived from the iconic “Maria Clara”, and is packaged as an approachable girl friend that any Filipina can approach and feel comfortable talking to about “girl problems.”
The launch for Ask Mara, an initiative of BAYER, was presented to the public last October 22, 2019 in BGC after it officially went online the week before. During the event, Dr. Marie Michelle Dado, a member of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, shared that there was a need for women to be more informed about the family planning options available for them, and a need to empower women to make decisions about their bodies without judgment.
The Ask Mara chat-bot conveniently helps with this situation, as it was built to have answers to the most commonly asked questions about the reproductive health, and delivers information in a casual conversation format. This means that when users talk to Mara, the chat-bot makes them feel as if they’re talking to a friend.
Bayer PH’s digital thought leader, OB-Gyne Dr. Marie Michelle Dado talks about the modern woman’s health in the age of social media and artificial intelligence.
To get started, simply message Ask Mara on Facebook messenger or visit the Ask Mara PH page and choose “Get Started.” Mara will immediately prompt the most regularly asked questions that you can choose from or you’re most interested in. Mara can then explain to you facts about the reproductive system, contraceptive methods, the effects of using pills, and can even help in reminding you to take your pills on a schedule you can set up. Talk about a super reliable gal!
Although Mara is not a certified medical professional and cannot replace a consultation with one, it serves as a starting point where women can access verified information regarding reproductive health through the use of their smart phones.
That being said, Ask Mara is still a learning chat-bot and still has a lot of potential to improve in terms of its user experience and features.
Currently, it is able to create awareness and freedom for women to voice out concerns about their bodies without being scared of judgement. It has the potential to help Filipinas everywhere make informed choices and create more opportunities to love their bodies more.
*Contraceptives are attained through prescription, please consult your gynecologist or health care provider first for more information.
Photos from Ask Mara PH Facebook page