(Business in Cameroon) - With a simple tap on their mobile phone, it will now be possible for a sick person to find for free a doctor depending on their specialisation and location, and to get a prompt appointment or for a later date. Starting from 25 December 2016, this will be the change brought about by the app “Docta” in Cameroon, a country which registers one doctor for 10,000 inhabitants (in 2013, Ed.), against the standard of one doctor for 1,000 inhabitants decreed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The first beta version was launched on 28 October 2016. I personally went to Cameroon to support the doctors in the trial phase, to test the tool. A second beta version was released on 23 November 2016. But the app will be available on 25 December 2016, to actually make an appointment. This will be our Christmas present to our country”, explains Elie Teumawe, Cameroonian IT engineer based in Paris, who developed “Docta”.
According to its developer, in addition to linking patients and doctors, “Docta” also offers to doctors who are members (50 at the moment, Ed.) “a full service to manage appointments, a huge drop in missed appointments due to a system of reminders via Text messages/email”. Still for doctors, the app helps to “advertise on internet the specifics of their activity to patients and future patients, offers them the possibility of joining the largest community of doctors which promotes cooperation in Cameroon and throughout the world sharing experiences, knowledge, skills and exchanges, especially on different clinical cases.”.
Later on, as Elie Teumawe highlighted, this app will also enable the payment of health fees online, thus giving the possibility to members of the diaspora of helping their nearest and dearest who remained in the country; it will offer a geolocation service for hospitals and pharmacies, with the possibility of finding in real time the closest pharmacy on duty; and will make available to patients databases full of information on the pathologies, while raising awareness within the population on behaviours which may put them at risk.
The app “Docta”, which plans to revolutionise access to health technicians in Cameroon, explains its sponsor, was born from personal experience, but mostly from a revolt. “During my stay in the country in 2014, I fell ill. My older brother with whom I was staying took me to a clinic in Tsinga (a neighbourhood in Yaoundé), even though it is very far from the house. In that excellent clinic, they discovered I had contracted malaria. I had to go back everyday, just to receive an injection”, Elie Teumawe narrates.
And he continues: “In that moment, I thought that an app looking for doctors and hospitals, while providing detailed information to the patient, would be great to quickly get referred. Also, the incredible violence and emotion created by the Monique Koumatekel case utterly convinced me to launch the Docta app”.
As a reminder, Monique Koumatekel was a young Cameroonian woman who died in labour at the Laquintinie hospital in Douala last April, after going to several hospitals where she did not receive care. To save the babies (she was pregnant with twins) of this patient who was refused treatment by Laquintinie hospital, her sister, in desperation, undertook to slice her stomach open outside, with a makeshift scalpel. This occurred in front of the mobile telephone cameras of curious passers-by, who immediately flooded social networks with the horrifying images.
Brice R. Mbodiam