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Digital health, wellbeing platforms debut on World Health Day

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 07 Apr 2021

Ronald Abvajee, CEO of Healthy Living Consulting, has announced the launch of two digital platforms aimed at bringing health and wellness information to every South African citizen.

This, as today marks World Health Day 2021, which is held under the theme “Together for a fairer, healthier world”.

In an e-mail interview with ITWeb, Abvajee says MyHealth360, an online portal, and MyWell360, which is an app available on both iOS and Android, are services that run to support online assessments, consultations, courses, surveys, challenges and learning.

“MyHealth360 and MyWell360 are disruptive health tech platforms that deliver multi-faceted wellbeing support via video, articles, classes, short and long courses, learning, assessments, live content, online consultations with medical practitioners (from doctors to dieticians and traditional healers), social engagement, and challenges in a manner never so comprehensively or uniquely offered before.”

Both platforms are live as of today, but their full functionality will be released in a phased approach over the next two weeks, he notes.

“The app and portal are free to use, and the app is data-enabled so once downloaded, it is data light. Informational content, live events, fitness classes, chat facilities and select courses are free. Some services within the app and portal, for example, one-on-one consultations and courses, are paid-for options.”

On this year’s World Health Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilise action to attain better health for all and leave no one behind.

Delivering the World Health Day message during a webinar this morning, Dr Matshediso Moeti, WHO director in Africa, said COVID-19 has really shone a light on inequalities between countries.

“Amid shortages of essential supplies, African countries have been pushed to the back of the queue in accessing COVID-19 test-kits, personal protective equipment and now the vaccine.

“Vaccines offer great hope to turn the tide of the pandemic, but to protect the world, we must ensure all people, at risk everywhere and not just in countries that can afford vaccines, are immunised.”

She adds: “This World Health Day, I’d like to call on member states, partners, civil society, communities and other stakeholders to intensify work with WHO and our partners to achieve universal health coverage and to invest in addressing the social and economic ills of health, tackle inequities and build a fairer, healthier world.”

Mission-critical tech

A physiologist by profession, Abvajee says since childhood, he has been motivated to find ways to ensure the wellbeing of people.

As a result, he and his team have made it their mission to significantly shift the needle on health and wellbeing in the country. “In the work I have done over the years, what I found so often was that people just didn’t have the right information to make the right choices.

“So we developed numerous tools to do that and now both platforms pull all this functionality together so that an individual may take charge of their wellbeing on an ongoing basis; a company may offer the tools and resources for employees to improve their wellbeing and improve overall performance; and wellbeing providers have the ability to offer comprehensive solutions rather than isolated interventions.”

Abvajee explains that the health tech platforms provide expert health knowledge and support required to attain wellbeing and empowerment and the tools to take action.

“When people have the ability to access knowledge, they are empowered to make decisions to protect them or improve their wellbeing through behaviour change.

“To put this in practical terms, someone could watch a video on diabetes, for example, understand that they are at risk, chat to an expert online about it and then book a consultation with a doctor or nutritionist. They could do a course on weight-loss or nutrition and their practitioner can manage their progress through the technology.

“Both platforms can be used in a person’s individual capacity, or tailored to specific wellbeing programmes for businesses, corporates, community groups, medical practitioners, coaches, teachers and medical aids, to name but a few.”

Commenting on why is it important for South Africans to have access to health and wellness information, Abvajee notes citizens face wellbeing threats and challenges every day – beyond COVID-19.

“We face obesity, hypertension, diabetes, HIV-Aids, TB and significant mental health challenges, to mention only a few. Having access to expert information that is easy to understand is key in saving lives but that’s just the first step. Having access to tools to create change throughout your lifetime is critical.

“We realised that while some of the platforms and apps available in the market deliver individual services, they don’t deal with wellbeing end-to-end and the number of people that are able to access them is limited. Unfortunately, the level of inequality through access adversely affects parts of our population experiencing the greatest health issues, many of which can be avoided with the right access to information and expert advice.”