This award, sponsored by Sentech, is one of 12 app winners announced at the MTN App of the Year awards ceremony held late last month in Sandton, Johannesburg. Vula Mobile is the brainchild of Dr William Mapham, who conceived the idea for the app while working at an Eye Clinic in rural Swaziland. He experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by rural health workers when they need specialist advice. In 2015, the app which was then only available to assist with eye health and had 500 registered users, won the MTN award for Most Innovative App. That year 851 patients benefitted from specialist guided healthcare.

From left to right: MTN representative Lungile Mngomezulu; Dr Chinazo Okeke, Vula Mobile; Mokgadi Rasekgala, Vula Mobile; Dr William Mapham, Vula Mobile; Kopano Thage from Sentech; Sne Dladla, Comedian and MC for the evening.

Today the system has expanded to 23 specialties which include Cardiology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Emergency Medicine. There are 8 500 registered users, and this is increasing at approximately 300 addition users every month. There are now 45 types of health professional using it, from ambulance assistants, nurses, doctors to specialists across six provinces. In September this year alone, 9 000 patients benefitted from health professionals using this app.

Research from Stellenbosch University shows that in 31% of cases, the patient is treated at the primary facility, by a primary health worker who is given advice by a specialist on Vula Mobile.

“I just wanted to express how great an innovation this app is. Essentially, Vula Mobile has meant that patients are getting better care now than before it existed. In the South African public health context that’s a huge thing,” says Dr C Dold, a junior doctor. Vula Mobile is now supported by the South African National Department of Health and is being rolled out across all nine Provinces with interest being shown from other countries too.

This app is all about connecting healthcare workers to doctors for the better care of patients. SENTECH is an appropriate sponsor for the category of Best Health Solution as they are all about connecting you to the world and connecting the world to you.

“SENTECH is a key provider of wireless broadband particularly for the public sector. Our current main focus area is to deliver broadband services to the health sector. This is in line with the Governments key strategic objectives to provide efficient healthcare services for all South Africans. We believe that being associated with this innovative health care application, could assist Government in providing a healthcare solution and advance service delivery in the 4th industrial revolution era,” says Mlamli Booi, SENTECH CEO.

Award entries in this category were all judged according to strict criteria, assessing whether they were a solution to assist and alleviate the myriad of challenges faced by the healthcare industry in South Africa.

The MTN Business App of the Year Awards also included the best consumer solution, best enterprise solution, best incubated solution, most innovative solution, best education solution, best gaming solution, best agricultural solution, best financial solution as well as best breakthrough developer, best “South African” app and Best Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) solution.

These awards play a vital role in elevating local entrepreneurs and showcasing exciting new innovations within the ICT industry in South Africa, providing a platform that celebrates local talent, rewards out-of-the-box thinking and continues to enable new technology start-ups to build innovative applications.

Some of the apps which have been discovered through this platform over the last 8 years and which are now household names include Snapscan, Khula! Stokfella and Domestly. With only 50 entries in the inaugural competition in 2011, this year saw over 600 entries, a clear indication of both the popularity of these Awards as well as the growing pool of talented app developers locally.

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