Vula Mobile, a South African health-tech startup, a medical referral app and online platform which hosts a network of health professionals and connects healthcare workers by providing a safe and secure platform to share advice has partnered with the leading medicines firm, Novartis to provide an improved eye care services across Africa.
The Vula Mobile digital platform connects primary health care workers with experts, allowing for a more seamless and rapid examination of eye conditions and a better understanding of how people seek care in remote locations. The strategic relationship with Novartis intends to enable primary care institutions to provide appropriate eye care, increase the quality of referrals to specialist centers, and aid health system managers in making data-driven choices. Nurses, general practitioners, and allied health providers will utilize Vula to communicate with experts on call asynchronously to discuss the problems of their patients.
“According to data generated, we have learned that in an average of 30 percent of the cases, the eye specialist gives medical advice via the app or on the online portal, enabling the patient to be treated and managed by the primary health worker. This saves the patient travel time, improves health care delivery, upskills the primary health worker, and decreases the burden at the local specialist service.” William Mapham, founder and CEO of Vula Mobile, said.
Vula Mobile will collaborate with Novartis to provide technical and strategic expertise for a long-term business strategy. The program will also be integrated into the Novartis Biome SSA Community as a way to help healthcare personnel develop their skills.
Racey Muchilwa, the head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Novartis emphasized how strategic the partnership is for the eye care service delivery in Africa. “There is a clear scarcity of general eye care specialists in Sub-Saharan Africa – a 2019 study further shows that there are 2.7 ophthalmologists per million populations, and these interventions will help utilize the limited resources by connecting primary healthcare workers with patients.”
“Another important piece in the management of eye health is the impact vision impairment can have on every aspect of quality of life, including the burden it can produce for patients, for caregivers, and on the society. This partnership reinforces our commitment at Novartis, to actively engage patients and healthcare systems, enable broad and fast access to innovation, and improve health outcomes.” He added
The three-year agreement will begin with a pilot initiative focusing on eye health in Namibia and Botswana. Following the successful conclusion of the first phase of the agreement, plans will be made to expand the collaboration to additional nations throughout the continent in other therapeutic areas.
Novartis International AG, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is a global pharmaceutical firm. It is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and it creates transformative treatments in areas of great medical need by combining innovative science and digital technologies.