Vula Mobile

A mobile health app improving eye care in rural South Africa
2015 SEED South Africa Award; Government of Flanders
Green Technologies
South Africa

The enterprise’s app solution is designed to improve eye care diagnosis, treatment and specialist referrals for rural health care professionals. Practitioners can take photos, capture a brief medical history and directly communicate with specialists. The software licenses are sold to health systems administrators and NGOs, and the app is free to download.

The app improves the quality of practitioner decisions, while thoroughly documenting the process. It provides a fast and convenient way to connect rural patients, healthcare professionals and eye care specialists. 

Vula Mobile enables rural health workers to better serve patients with eye conditions.  By allowing primary healthcare professionals, regardless of geography, to access accurate information and specialist practitioners, stress and uncertainty for patients is reduced, appropriate treatment is accurately prescribed and early identification of serious conditions lessens the risk of long-term health effects.

Eco-Inclusive Impacts
Vula Mobile enables rural health workers to better serve patients with eye conditions. By allowing primary healthcare professionals to access accurate information, stress and uncertainty for patients are reduced, treatment is accurately prescribed and serious conditions are identified early.
  • Eliminating geographical restraints by providing health workers in rural areas with direct access to specialists.
  • Facilitating early identification of serious eye conditions, reducing the risk of long-term effects.
  • Documenting the process of patient referrals, reducing errors and delays.
  • Substituting paper documents and postal shipping for communication between practitioners and institutions.
  • Avoiding paper waste and the need for e.g. fax machines in the enterprise by mobile and online communication.


  • Allowing more effective resource allocation, giving specialists control over patient referrals.
  • Avoiding incorrect referrals to specialist clinics, reducing wasted time and money.
  • Reducing hospitals’ risk of misconduct, avoiding costly medico-legal process.


Vula is a mobile phone application that empowers rural health professionals to provide efficient and effective eye care by accessing accurate information. Frontline practitioners communicate directly with specialists, discussing the patient over a messaging system. The improved quality of primary care and accurate referrals to specialists reduce the impact of treatable and reversible illnesses.

Mafami owns Vula Mobile, and is a registered company in terms of the South African Companies Act.

The Fund for Innovation and Research in Rural Health (FIRRH) at Stellenbosch University helps to explore the effectiveness of Vula in other areas of rural healthcare.

Gauteng Accelerator Programme and Innovation Hub provides funding and ongoing mentorship for Vula as part of its GAP ICT award 2014.

Tygerberg Hospital forms an integral part of the real world user experience of Vula, and provides valuable feedback for future innovation.

CBM is an international development organisation supporting access to rural healthcare and helping Vula to grow in other medical specialities.