JOHANNESBURG - A young entrepreneur has stepped forward to curb the scourge of diabetes in South Africa through innovative technology.
Lubabalo Mnyaka founded Aflu Med Healthcare in 2014 to develop different programmes to prevent and manage the disease.
The 30-year old Mnyaka, who is also the company’s managing director, also owns an online computer store LJ Mnyaka Technologies.
Mnyaka, who, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Microbiology from the University of Free State, says he took a liking to diabetes while working as a cardio metabolic care representative for Merck Serono, a German multinational pharmaceutical company in Johannesburg.
He says he discovered that South Africa was struggling to manage 3.5 million South Africans who lived with the silent killer disease.
He says he found that 95 percent live with Type 2 as a result of their lifestyles while the rest battled Type 1 which is an autoimmune disease.
“The disease is growing at an alarming rate,” says Mnyaka, who also runs Divine Spectrum Consulting, a Christian-based media production house.
“In 2010 the prevalence of type 2 diabetes was estimated at 4.5 percent. We are now looking at 155 percent increase in such a short space of time.”
Mnyaka says between 60 percent and 80 percent of people with diabetes in the country die before the age of 60.
“This is the working class that should be building the economy.”
He says the government spends a fortune on diabetes treatment, with the cost per person per year costing taxpayers R5 000 in 2010 and jumping to R26 743.69 in 2015.
Mnyaka says he has developed a diabetes management software for government clinics to reduce the cost to the fiscus.
The software allows heads of departments and treating doctors and nurses to enforce accountability, prevent and/or delay the onset of diabetes complications.
Mnyaka, who was born in the Eastern Cape, says health practitioners are then able to know who has collected medication, view missed appointments, individualise treatment plans and monitor progress, among other things, at the click of a button.
He says the software also allows for the electronic storage of data. “Patient files are lost all the time,” says Mnyaka, who holds an advanced certificate in entrepreneurship from the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.
“This is a costly exercise (of) having to redo tests and missing out on important information regarding the patient’s health.”
Mnyaka says the diabetes management software is fully customisable and is capable of storing and sharing key information at a point of care such as full blood count, routine examination, ophthalmology, podiatry, stock management, and kidney function test, among others.
His clients include managed care organisations, medical aid scheme administrators, medical aid schemes and government.
Mnyaka says a number of private entities in Kenya and Nigeria have shown interest in the software.
“I don’t want to say much but there are some talks going on. I have also had a number of talks with the South African government,” he guardedly reveals.
Besides running his businesses, Mnyaka, who was chosen to represent South Africa in the 2015 UK-South Africa Bilateral Forum in London, says he is busy setting up the Eljays Institute of Science, a private school focussed on producing scientists in the healthcare and engineering sectors.
“We want to expose pupils, especially those from rural areas, to maths and science so that they become future scientists. We want to groom them from a young age up to Grade 12.”
The college, he says, is bent on removing the myth that mathematics and science are difficult subjects.
Mnyaka says he is determined to make the college a success and is already in the process of registering it with the Department of Basic Education. He stresses that failure is eminent in this journey but giving up is not an option. After all, he has seven failed businesses. “They left me with a debt just below R2 million. I call it tuition fee for street PhD.”