Dr. William Mapham

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Dr. William Mapham
African Innovator William Mapham.jpg
William Mapham. Retrieved from Aim Higher Africa. Retrieved 27th August 2019.
NationalitySouth African
OccupationOphthalmologist, Health Entrepreneur
Known forBeing the Founder of Vula Mobile

Editor: Marthia Keorapetse

Dr William Mapham is the founder and CEO of Vula Mobile, a healthcare application that puts healthcare workers in touch with oncall specialists[1] and a South African registrar in ophthalmology at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.[2]


Dr William Mapham obtained his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBCHB) from the University of Cape Town in 2002. In 2017, he further completed Ophthalmology at Stellenbosch University[3] and completed his internship at Kalafong Hospital near Pretoria. Dr Mapham then spent two years at Madwaleni Hospital in the rural Eastern Cape and served as the Vice-Chair for the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA).[4]

In 2010 to 2011, Dr Mapham practised ophthalmology at Good Shepherd Hospital, Eye Clinic in Swaziland and then at Uitenhage Hospital in the Eastern Cape from 2011 to 2013.[5]

Dr Mapham also spent time in New York at Columbia University and Washington D.C. designing mobile phone applications for healthcare. He has published academic articles on the role of innovation and technology in improving healthcare delivery.[6] Dr Mapham’s time in New York and Washington D.C. gave him the idea to create an application that would connect Swaziland health workers to specialists and streamline the referral process.

Having worked at the Vula Emehlo Eye Clinic in rural Swaziland, Dr Mapham experienced the difficulties faced by rural health workers when they need specialist advice.[7] One of the incidences that contributed to the creation of Vula is when Dr Mapham worked in a rural hospital in the Eastern Cape. Here he wrote a referral for a patient to see a specialist in Umtata as he did not know how to treat him due to lack of expertise at that stage. Seven years later, he learned that the patient had lost vision in one eye, as he had never got to the specialist.[8]

Dr Mapham’s goal in creating the Vula Mobile application was to strengthen health systems by enlarging the network and giving all health workers access to specialist guidance and providing specialist healthcare at a primary level.[9]


Taking a mobile technology approach, Dr Mapham founded and launched Vula Mobile, which was initially only for ophthalmology referrals upon its induction, but expanded when it became clear that the functionality provided by Vula was widely needed. The company has since worked with specialists in academic hospitals to make sure the right clinical information is captured in the referral.[10]

In 2018, Dr William Mapham was awarded the Emerging Leader Award at the inaugural South African Health Excellence Awards.[11]