Patrick Ssremba, 23, is a medical student, entrepreneur and recently won a global innovation competition for his digital on-demand medical and dental services platform, Weekly Medic.
While training as a medical student with placements in different hospitals across Uganda, Patrick saw an urgent need to find a solution to ill-equipped facilities. He says: “On an average day we’d have around a hundred out-patients with only two doctors on call. On other days, the interning students would step in feet of the attending doctors. Both the patients and doctors felt the strain, which is when I came up with the idea to take the medical facility to the patients’ homes instead.”
Patrick developed Weekly Medic, a mobile and digitalized medical and dental services platform to serve rural and isolated communities in Uganda. The platform offers on-demand emergency medical care such as inhouse physiotherapy, inhouse teeth extractions, online drug delivery, inhouse nursing care as well other essential screening services requested for by patients in their places of residences. The services are requested for via our WhatsApp numbers that are distributed all overcrowded public hospitals as well our online platforms. Weekly Medic, in addition, partners with variety of private clinic and hospitals to refer patients to them in case of hospital admission is required. Previously, Weekly Medic would take services to underserved communities through health outreaches and this alone impacted a thousand of people including school-going children.
At the height of the pandemic, while Uganda was in lockdown, Patrick suffered a distressing loss because of the challenges in accessing medical care. Patrick’s friend was in the late stages of her pregnancy and required urgent hospital care to help her deliver her twins. Due to lockdown, clearance was required to get to the hospital. Patrick recalls: “It took six hours for her to get clearance to go to the hospital and by the time she reached there it was too late. She had already passed away after delivering on her way to the facility.”
“She was able to give birth to her two children, but in my view, if she had been able to access medical care by the phone or connected to a nearby physician, she would have had the correct check-ups and diagnosis to know how serious the situation was before her condition worsened. This would have meant her young babies would have their mother with them today.”
This experience became the catalyst for Patrick’s vision to offer remote on-demand medical care to communities locked down during the coronavirus outbreak.
Patrick says: “With social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions in place for several months, I believed that this should not come in between a patient’s needs for medical attention and healthcare, particularly those most vulnerable. I created a mobile service so we could ensure that my local community could continue to receive the medical and dental support they needed especially during this difficult time.”
Patrick knew that the coronavirus outbreak presented a prime opportunity to show the value of Weekly Medic in a time of extreme adversity. It became clear how in demand, the service was. With more people able to access basic medical attention remotely or in alternative healthcare settings, this put less strain on hospital resources. He recognised the importance of his service but needed support to scale up and reach more people.
He then came across AdamStart on social media, an international platform set up to provide funding, mentorship and global training to help young entrepreneurs access business mentorship and scale social enterprise ideas. In response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the 2020 iteration of AdamStart required entrepreneurs to help prepare, inform, or protect communities from the impact of the pandemic.
Patrick says: “Most organisations that support young people in Africa usually search for entrepreneurs with more experience and at a later stage in their business’s lifecycle. If you have over three years of experience in a certain field or a wealth of expertise, you have a better chance of getting noticed. Unfortunately, this means that young people like me are often overlooked based on age, so it’s harder to progress. So, when I found AdamStart, I was keen to apply because it gives young people a chance to turn their ideas into reality. We can really help improve society and our communities as youths.”
As an AdamStart winner, Patrick will gain a sponsored trip to London in 2021 to take part in entrepreneurial training at Pearson Business School; have access to online training programmes; have the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles to spend time at the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in partnership with Creative Visions Foundation and explore opportunities for funding and financial backing. He will also be having access to top level industry mentors and coaches, such as Adam Bradford, founder of AdamStart, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who first set up his own business at age 15.
“Winning this competition was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I was overwhelmed with pride to be selected as a winner by such a well-respected and experienced panel of judges. I had to ask myself if this was real many times because it felt too good to be true. When I got contacted to say I’d been selected I felt like I was dreaming.”
Patrick is motivated to use this opportunity to become an ambassador for young entrepreneurs in Uganda: “I am driven to expand Weekly Medic across Africa and show how transferable its value is across different countries. I am looking forward to becoming a brand ambassador for AdamStart and be a representative of the innovation coming out of Uganda today and in the future. I want my community to be proud of the achievements I will create from this opportunity and remember what I accomplished.”