Health Security & Pandemics Challenge


Vula Mobile

Network of health workers to communicate, make referrals, and organize appointments

Team Lead

William Mapham

Solution Pitch

The Problem

In South Africa and many developing countries, the majority of the population has limited to no access to specialised medical services. Specialist medical services are only available in the larger cities and offered facilities are understaffed. In South Africa, there are 11 specialists per 100,000 people compared to 133 in developed countries like the United Kingdom. In other African countries like Rwanda, this number drops below one specialist per 100,000 people.

The Solution

Vula Mobile uses its mobile technology and application ecosystem to solve the problem of communication between health workers and specialists. The Vula Mobile eReferral and Chat App connect health workers to the right specialist so the appropriate action is taken for the patient. This results in patients gaining access to specialist medical services, particularly in underserved areas throughout South Africa. Specialists can optimise their time receiving referrals from primary health workers in a structured manner, while health workers can use the referral and communication data to inform strategic decision-making. Giving health workers a digital connection to facilitate referrals capacitates the health service from service delivery at ground level to strategic planning.


  • Over 6,000 facilities across South Africa with 20,000 registered health care workers.

  • Served 40,000 patients through on-call Covid doctors and referred 3,000 patients for Covid testing.

Market Opportunity

The South African public health sector serves about 49.6 million people, 83.4 percent of the South African population. $3.9 billion is spent annually by the South African government on health services for this population, which equates to about $65 per person.

Offering this population better health services requires significant increases in spending, but improvements are also possible by using technology to capacitate the current system. By facilitating communication between widespread primary health services and centralised specialist medical services, underserved areas are connected to specialist care, broadening the reach of the specialist facility. Referral and communication data can also help health administrators make important decisions, particularly in resource allocation.

Organization Highlights

  • Media feature in BBC World.

  • Selected as a 2021 finalist for Access to Quality Health at The Sustainable Development Goals Finance Geneva Summit, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme.

Partnership Goals

  • Connections and advice on expanding to other healthcare markets (Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia) and associated organizational scaling.

  • Expertise in machine learning and AI for health data in Africa in order to expand client base and service distribution.

Solver Team

Organization Type:

Cape Town, South Africa


Working In:
South Africa

Current Employees: 

Solution Website:

Solution Team:

  • Anuschka Coovadia Partner, Usizo Advisory Solutions; Strategic Healthcare Advisor, KPMG; Board member, Dischem, Dawi Clinics, and Caprisa
  • Dr Anuschka Coovadia Dr, Usizo Advisory Solutions
  • WM WM
    Dr William Mapham MBChB CEO, Vula Mobile

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