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Dr Mohammed Dalwai - Stellenbosch University

Matie Voices

Dr Mohammed Dalwai

Alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences


“In clinical medicine you can help one person at a time. What we are able to do now is help thousands of health care workers help more people.”

After playing a pivotal role in convincing the international humanitarian organisation Medicines sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders to implement the South African Triage Scale (SATS), Dr Mohammed Dalwai realised something important: That individuals DO have the ability to make an impact on the world.

While working for MSF in places such as Northern Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Sierra Leone, this Stellenbosch University alumnus also learned that doctors are more than just health care practitioners – they are advocates for their patients, fighting for their rights in order to improve their outcomes.

The lessons he learned while doing his community service in the rural Manguzi community in KwaZulu-Natal and completing missions for MSF greatly influenced his current work.

Five years ago, Dalwai and another Stellenbosch alumnus, Dr Yaseen Khan, founded The Open Medicine Project South Africa (TOMPSA), a non-profit aimed at capacitating health care workers in the developing world using mobile technology.

“I would come back from a mission and discuss the challenges I faced, which was often similar to the challenges faced by Khan in the lower socio-economic areas of Cape Town,” Dalwai explains.

They decided to use mobile technology and the reach it granted them to disseminate information to where it’s needed the most, empowering health care workers to make better decisions.

TOMPSA developed several apps in collaboration with, among other partners, the National Department of Health and the Medical Research Council (MRC). These apps include the Primary Health Care (PHC) Clinical Guide app as well as the Mobile Triage App. Triage is the process of sorting patients according to urgency in emergency settings, such as a hospital emergency room.

The NGO’s apps have been downloaded more than 300 000 times in about 100 different countries.

Two years ago Dalwai and Khan founded the social impact company Essential Medical Guidance (EMGuidance), a mobile and web-based clinical support platform for medical professionals, providing instant access to locally relevant medicines information and clinical guidelines, tools and care coordination information.

“Our vision is still the same – we want to empower medical professionals and improve patient outcomes,” says Dalwai.

Their aim for 2018 is to make EMGuidance – which is already being used by approximately 10 000 health care workers in several African countries – bigger and better, with a focus on adding even more value.

“We want it to be the best medicines resource in Africa and the developing world.”

Although Dalwai misses practicing clinical medicine, he appreciates the exponential growth factor that comes with technology.

“In clinical medicine you can help one person at a time. What we are able to do now is help thousands of health care workers help more people.”

- By Pia Nänny -