Thoughts on MedAfrica Android and Symbian Apps

I finally downloaded the MedAfrica app for Android and before the real owners of my Nokia N8 took it (yes it was stolen), I got a chance to test it briefly on the Symbian platform. Impressive and simple I must say. The app pans out well on my HTC Sensation screen as it is optimised for the big screens not like many of the local apps which are targeted at the likes IDEOS U8150 with the simple excuse that the 3.2 inches screen is the most common screen size around.

First MedAfrica app is an app whose objective is to help improve community health by increasing access to healthcare information. The app is now available for Nokia’s Symbian platform and Android. The app is just 755KB on Android while on Nokia store it is just 0.02MB. That is great for the memory of my phone. The app is also available for Java (feature phones). The app is still free on both Android and Symbian platforms though while talking with Shimba Technologies CEO, Steve Mutinda, the revenue model they are pursuing might point to a premium version of the app.

Though there is not much content on the app, its is a great platform with a few areas I would have loved to see improved. First the list of Doctors should be by county or region. Now they are listed by country. I recently had a big medical case with a relative in Kisumu. I wanted a Neurologist and all I was being referred to were based in Nairobi. I couldn’t get the contacts of those who might be in Kisumu or able to periodically visit Kisumu. This app might solve this by just using the KMPDB data which already has locations and then narrowing down the list well using the data.

The app also lacks emergency links. I would love to see a widget which links me or a user to St Johns, Kenya Redcross and other emergency services’ hotline. Most of the time, your phone is your only companion. When I was involved in a grisly road accident in Limuru last August, the first thing I thought of was to tweet Kenya RedCross to send me an ambulance as there were others who were also injured. I was able to get a response within no time. This app might just save me from the problems of having to struggle with connection issues as all the data on the app are native.

Don’t get me wrong. This app is very great and needs to work not only for the owners to get an ROI but also to solve the many problems we have in Africa. Health being one of them. Most of the problems we have on health are out of ignorance (yes Africans still die of Malaria).

The app brings all the info you might need to rescue a situation to your fingertips. In future, I would love to see the Shimba Technologies remove the “About Us” widget and replace it with info about the nearest blood-banks. Sometimes you need not occupy such space with info about your company while the space could have saved a life.

For items like “Drugs”, I am looking for MedAfrica to partner with and get the API so that all the data might just be put straight from the website onto the MedAfrica app.

We have been hearing a lot from Samsung, Nokia and Safaricom about partnering with MedAfrica to better this app. This partnership, I must say, looks connish in a way that all the big players do nothing to promote the app but just have it on the stable as a mark of recognition that atleast they work with some Kenyan developers. Nokia and Samsung are to push the app on their respective app stores while Safaricom has the app on their landing page. That only with the loud noise about the partnership? I feel like this is baaaaad……….

Some areas I believe Shimba can work on I already intimated to Steve while others I have mentioned above. What do you think? Comment below.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

Leave a Reply

Exit mobile version