Wambui Murimi’s family has a history of developing high blood pressure. Watching her loved ones suffer prompted her to create an application to help others
Grace Wachira @yaa_grace
I n Wambui Murimi’s family, hypertension is a common disease. Her mother and grandmother both live with the condition.
“There are some relatives that died because of hypertension-related illnesses like stroke or brain aneurysm, but at the time, they did not know they had the disease,” the founder of My Afya application says.
Fifteen years ago, when her mother was pregnant with their youngest sibling, she developed pre-eclampsia. “That made me aware of hypertension and I have always wanted to find a way to make it bearable for my mother,” she says. She had seen her mother take pills everyday and was determined to solve her problem and help her manage the condition better.
Wambui who studied economics and statistics also studied how to code. “I taught myself how to code having worked in the tech space with software developers for the past four years,” she says.
Her gravitation towards creating a health application was stirred after she attended a hackerthon at Strathmore University a few years back. “It was a two-day marathon where we were presented with problems that needed solving. You design a solution and a prototype then present it in two days,” she narrates.
Her ideal problem to solve was hypertension because she had been researching about it. Since there were doctors and developers around, she zeroed in on it.
Every time tech heads face a problem, they find a tech angle to solve it. “It took us more than six months to develop the app after the initial stages,” Wambui says. The My Afya app cannot, however, function on its own. The solution is a combination of an app and a device.
You get the app once you purchase manual pressure monitors, which we sell at Sh4,200. You can key in your readings and find out how you are doing, for example, if you need to see a doctor,” she says as she demonstrates for us.
With one developer and two doctors on board, Wambui is working on smart pressure monitors. “You have to know your readings for you to manage the condition. It, especially helps when they need to know their triggers,” she says. One year later, they have 202 users, with women being the majority.
This is despite the fact that most men suffer from hypertension as per a 2016 report. “The app has been of benefit since it rules out white coat hypertension (where patients become anxious once they see a doctor. It influences the reading).
The app also has a subscription service where patients can have their medication delivered to them monthly,” she says.
Internet connectivity and medication that is sold as short cuts are some challenges. “Along the way, they come across different medication and that sets them back. We also have to get our servers updated every other time because health records are private and critical,” Wambui states. They hope get enough funds to expand into Uganda.