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App fights healthcare crisis in South Africa
02:53 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a special focus on South Africa and how it is shaping the future and paving the way for the rest of the continent.

Story highlights

AitaHealth helps specialists reach those who don't have access to hospitals

The app passes on information about infections to the government

CNN  — 

South Africa struggles with just 200,000 healthcare workers for a population of 54 million, which means its doctor to patient ratio is one to 270. With long queues and few hospitals, the people who are most in need of medical aid do not necessarily have access to it.

But one app is trying to help solve that. AitaHealth trains community health workers who offer counseling and home treatment, focusing on preventive care.

“We’ve developed a solution that allows our community healthcare workers to visit clients on a household level or school or workplace,” AitaHealth’s CEO, Jacques de Vos, told CNN.

In addition, in collaboration with South Africa’s largest telecom company, Vodafone, AitaHealth passes on information about infections to the government.

“They will capture information on a day to day basis and then all of this information gets aggregated into the cloud,” de Vos added.

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One illness with which the app has been particularly helpful is tuberculosis.

“The [app’s] most significant impact is reaching people who would have gone missing - a good example is TB,” Professor Jannie Hugo, the head of the department of family and healthcare at the University of Pretoria, told CNN.

“We find that for every patient that is known to the system there is another person that is not on management or they have symptoms.”

AitaHealth hopes to fill exactly this gap in the system.