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Maria Lopez - eWoundHelp | ecomafrica.org

Mobile Health Shifting the African Narrative beyond borders

Mobile Health Shifting the African Narrative beyond borders

In this post I chat to Angola born Changemaker, Mentor and Entrepreneur, Maria Pedro Miala.

You are a champion for change at Empower Women for UN Women, an African Changemaker Fellow, a mentor to African students with over 10 years’ experience as a nurse in international health care. How did this broad journey lead you to e-commerce?

Well, for Champion for change at Empower Women for UN Women my project was teaching African women about financial literacy. This entailed explaining to them how the stock market works and how it can benefit them. I discovered my passion to teach and to pass my knowledge to other Africans at that moment. Programs like African Changemakers and AWEC just increased my knowledge about management and business in general since I’ve always dreamed about becoming an entrepreneur.

My first passion is still healthcare and in particular Digital health and Wound Care so a great way to realize all of my dreams at once: Become an entrepreneur, teach, create a digital health platform and talk about Wound Care was to start with e/commerce and this is how eWoundHelp started.

Considering the current global COVID-19 crisis, what role do you think technology can play to alleviate the situation?

Telemedicine and mobile health can play a great role in mobilizing the people, teach them and provide people with correct information about COVID19. Digital health platforms will make the difference in minimizing the damage as much as possible when we are talking about COVID19.

I do believe it is one of the best solutions to fight this virus in Africa. Which is why I am starting Tele-Saude Educativo! This is a digital health platform which not only provides correct information to the people with simple language to Lusophone Africans but also connects Lusophone Africans to international digital health providers in Portuguese. With this ongoing pandemic, many will not be able to go to a hospital due to quarantines, so contacting a doctor or nurse through a digital health platform may provide the help they require.

Your online platform eWoundHelp is a game changer for healthcare in Africa as an innovative health system strategy. How did this platform come about and what has been the impact created as a result?

Africa will be short of 6 million healthcare workers by 2030. While Africa has the fastest growing middle class in the world, with 313 million people of Africa’s population- this growing middle class is demanding higher quality and more specialized medical care. The new conditions will need different types of healthcare workers, especially specialized nurses, who have more knowledge about technology and come up with digital solutions such as eWoundHelp. These shortages create more burden and a heavy workload for the remaining healthcare workers who due to all of this can’t spend enough time with each patient, to do a good wound assessment, wound diagnosis and wound treatment. Often healthcare practitioners in Africa do not have the time to examine well feet or other wounds among their other workloads.

All of this takes a lot of time which they do not have, and this is why eWoundHelp is needed. There is currently no provision of specialised wound care training to doctors and nurses in in Many African countries during their training years and the provision of wound care in smaller public facilities and rural areas remain very basic. Wound care, especially regarding foot complications is crucial as the number of people living with diseases such as diabetes is set to increase. There are 14,2 million people with diabetes in Africa, with that figure expected to rise to 34,2 million in 2030. When we noticed the lack of specialized nurses in African countries and also of postgraduate programs for wound care we decided to act. Most nurses had to fly all the way to South Africa just to have a decent education about wound care this is why we decided to create a platform to provide them with a postgraduate specialization in Wound care that can be followed from anywhere at any time.

Right now, we are at the beginning stage but I am sure that eWoundHelp will have a great impact in Africa.

How important has legislation been at delivering a post-graduate wound care program through mobile on your platform eWoundHelp Programs? Are the programs accredited?

The certificates are delivered by universities that we are collaborating with now. We are in the process of obtaining CPD credits for our courses to benefit the nurses. Nurses are required to obtain a certain amount of CPD credits per year. We will be able to attract more nurses once we get the CPD credits, but the problem is that many medical institutions still do not believe in mobile programs.

Where do you see healthcare for Africa in the next five years as a direct result of technology?

In 5 years, I see many more individuals using telemedicine and mobile health platforms for consultations and to receive health information.

But in 10 years I truly believe that people will treat digital healthcare as normal healthcare just like in fintech. This revolution has already begun in Africa!

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Mpho Sekwele

Mpho Sekwele

Mpho Sekwele, a Dartmouth College (USA) Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders Initiative, has over ten years of corporate work experience in the retail industry for Blue Chip retail companies in Africa. Mpho is an alumnus of the University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand and holds an Executive MBA from IEDC Bled School of Management (Slovenia). Mpho is passionate about youth and women empowerment; through sintuonline.com an eCommerce platform where contemporary African Heritage Clothing and Accessories made by young women in Africa, are sold globally; as well as BantuHikers a wellness, networking and mentorship platform for first generation students.
Maria Lopez - eWoundHelp | ecomafrica.org

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