Mandla Health seeks to help underserved communities
University of Cape Town students recently launched Mandla Health, a mobile app to assist patients in marginalised communities with their health conditions.
Described as a “one-stop chronic health app”, Mandla Health primarily targets patients who access overburdened public healthcare facilities in the country.
Mark Verryn developed Mandla Health in collaboration with his fellow student partners: Gilad Shorer, Siyavuya Fikamva and PhD candidate Dr Nkanyiso Hadebe.
The application serves three core functions. It allows users to access material on various health topics via a digital library and includes links to other useful health-related resources produced by government and non-profit organisations.
It enables users to set and monitor certain health and lifestyle goals – this includes weight and body mass index monitoring. The application also helps users keep an eye on their blood pressure levels, tracks glucose levels and monitors CD4 counts and viral loads. Mandla Health also tracks an individual’s alcohol consumption and cigarette intake.
It empowers users to keep track of their medication and includes a built-in pill description tool that helps users identify their medication by size, shape and colour.
Mandla Health was officially launched at the beginning of 2022 for both Android and Apple devices, and is free to use.
“We are so excited to introduce Mandla Health to the market. As medical students working in healthcare facilities in the country, we see the plight of our people and we understand their challenges. It was our civic duty to do something about it,” says Verryn.
Through meaningful engagement with the platform, users are empowered to take control of their health and well-being. Verryn says the team hopes this will decrease the load on the already overburdened public healthcare system.
“While the Mandla Health application is suited to all South Africans’ needs, we feel those in under-resourced communities will benefit most, especially those accessing care in overburdened facilities where healthcare professionals have short consultation times and where language barriers are a big factor,” he adds.
The application’s multilingual feature means users can access all its resources in three of SA’s 11 official languages – English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.
“We have many big ideas on how to improve the application. Ultimately, we hope Mandla will be in the hands of all South Africans and will act as a useful tool to assist users on their journey to good health and hopefully help alleviate the burden on public sector hospitals,” Verryn says.