Saving babies and moms via social media? That's what Afrinection member Joachim Mabula (30), a Tanzanian doctor, is doing with Tiba Fasta. With his initiative, he is helping thousands of patients per day connect with healthcare professionals using Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself?
A. Besides being a medical doctor who trained in Tanzania and the UK, I am a Global Youth Ambassador for Their World. Founded by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, this global organization committed to changing the lives of vulnerable children around the world.
I also got two fellowships in the USA: the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) funded by US State Department and the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact (DCLI) Fellowship funded by both Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the US President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). These fellowships have given me leadership skills and data analytics skills which I am using to tell data stories for local impact.
Q. How does your venture Tiba Fasta fit into your story?
A. I started Tiba Fasta, which means Fast Treatment in Swahili, in 2017. My aim is to bridge the communications' gap between the public and medical professionals through social media whilst helping people access critical healthcare-related information. This is necessary: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Tanzanian doctor-to-patient ratio stands at 1:20,000.
This has severe consequences. Because of poor access to health information and services, 21 Tanzanian women and 430 children die every day as a result of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Under-five mortality stands at 81 deaths per 1,000 live births, neonatal mortality at 26 per 1,000 live births, and infant mortality at 51 per 1,000 live births. Tanzania’s maternal mortality rate stands at 398 per 100,000 live births where the global target is 70:100,000. Tanzania has the 10th largest number of newborn deaths globally.
Q. How does Tiba Fasta work?
A. My initiative is connecting patients to medical professionals through social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. Through these channels, doctors help those who ask for help, evaluate symptoms, explain complicated medical conditions to people with no medical background and tell patients about healthy living.
I am verified on Twitter and have over 277,000 followers. I actively use this platform to share information and raise awareness on issues revolving around maternal health, child development, and adolescence. Through the Twitter hashtag #ElimikaWikiendi, I discuss common health issues people face, equip patients with knowledge on how to tackle their health issues and how they can prevent diseases and infections.
Q. What is Tiba Fasta’s strength?
A. We work in Swahili because it is spoken all over the country. From a medical perspective, patients prefer asking for and receiving healthcare information in their mother tongue. Most information is mainly available in English only. Whilst people may speak English, they may not be able to express themselves adequately in English from a medical point of view.
In addition, most health professionals lack the terminology in African languages like Swahili, mainly because medical knowledge is transferred in English.
Q. What has been the highlight since you started Tiba Fasta?
A. We reach 1 million people every week via all our platforms
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. We are working towards a health website like www.cdc.gov and www.nhs.uk, but in Swahili and we want to help develop a medical dictionary written in Swahili. We are also planning to develop a medical directory that connects all Tanzanian healthcare providers in one database. Also, in five years from now, we want to reach 50 million people.
Q. What is your strategy to achieve that?
A. Tiba Fasta will apply the freemium business model. Our website and mobile app will be free of charge, but a premium will be charged for additional features and services such as scheduling a meet-up session with a doctor/nurse and online consultations including phone calls. We will also sell an English to Swahili medical dictionary on soft and hard copies and invite advertisers to our website and application.
Q. What are your 3 key tips for aspiring and budding entrepreneurs?
A. Consistency, good leadership and time management.