Diagnostic app for faster and more accurate medical referrals
68-year-old Nojongile lives in a picturesque village 1,300 kilometres from Cape Town. Yet for many years, she was not able to admire her surroundings or participate fully in village life because she suffered from cataracts. Although a simple 20-minute surgery could have restored Nojongile’s sight, the nearest hospital is four hours away and the waiting times stretched to years.
According to the World Health Organization, 246 million people worldwide have low vision and 39 million are blind, even though 80% of visual impairment can be prevented or cured. It’s a frustrating problem that ophthalmologist Dr Mapham understands all too well.
When volunteering in rural Swaziland, Dr Mapham drove eight hours to diagnose patients, who would then have to be transported for the same eight-hour journey to receive treatment. If weather or logistics prevented his journey, a patient was often misdiagnosed. As a result many patients lost out on badly needed care, while others would undertake costly journeys to travel to faraway hospitals unnecessarily.
That’s why Dr Mapham created an app that allows health workers to capture basic patient and eye test information and securely share it with a specialist thousands of miles away. Called Vula – from the siSwati phrase for ‘open your eyes’ – the app works on any iOS or Android phone with a camera, and is proving to be an invaluable tool for the 400 nurses, doctors and health workers who have started using it since its launch in 2014.
Vula has helped people like Nojongile restore their sight, and has been so in demand that cardiology, orthopaedics and burns diagnosis have also been added this year. The Vula team is now working on expanding its reach in Swaziland and Zambia. Find out more at www.vulamobile.com
Image courtesy of Orbis - Giving the gift of sight
Last updated: 10th of August, 2016