Interview: Temie Giwa-Tubosun’s Journey to Improving the Healthcare System and Eradicating COVID-19 in Nigeria
The year 2016 saw the birth of LifeBank, a healthtech platform founded by Temie Giwa-Tubosun to mobilize free distribution and donation of blood to blood banks across Nigeria.
Temie is one of the entrepreneurs that are playing a huge role in curbing the spread of the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
Alongside her team, she launched 2 drive-through mobile testing centers to help expand and ease the process of getting tested for the corona virus and ensuring that those that test positive get adequate care.
In this enlightening interview, Temie shares her journey so far with Lifebank and her contribution in the fight against COVID-19.
Tell us a little about yourself
I am Temie Giwa-Tubosun, I had my first degree at the Minnesota State University Moorhead and graduated in 2007. I went on to Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey for my graduate education and graduated in 2010.
I have had fellowships at the World Health Organization, Global Health Corps and worked on a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project.
I am passionate about making access to healthcare a right and not a privilege and LifeBank is the tool to achieve that.
Tell us about LifeBank and the solutions you provide
LifeBank is a health technology and logistics company. We are in the business of saving lives, we work with hospitals round the clock to find lifesaving medical products and we deliver to the hospitals in the right condition.
We source and deliver blood, oxygen, medicines and other medical products and we deliver as fast as possible in the best condition required.
What inspired the idea for LifeBank?
LifeBank was inspired by my personal experience of childbirth. After that experience during the birth of my first child, I made up my mind that no one has to die because of lack of access to blood or other medical products.
What’s the greatest challenge you encountered when you started out?
Africa is known for its lack of real infrastructure. Our work is building the soft infrastructure that will help fit the gap and leapfrog to save lives.
However, building a healthcare supply chain company in such an underdeveloped economy requires that we invest in smart logistics technology.
As you know, this is incredibly capital intensive. Thus, what we find most
challenging is finding patient capital that will allow us to invest in infrastructure and grow quickly to save lives across the continent and other emerging markets.
We see you’ve been working actively, providing solutions during this pandemic. Tell us about it and how that has been going for your business
Yes, at the outbreak of the coronavirus, LifeBank made a decision to help support the government to save more lives. We have created a wide range of products and services in response to the outbreak.
We have set up drive through and walk through testing centers in Lagos and Oyo states, we recently launched AirBank, which is an on demand oxygen supply and we have provided 6 cubic meters of oxygen to isolation centers in Lagos at no cost. We have also built a national register of critical equipment needed which are ICU beds, Ventilators and Respirators.
Most of our works in response to COVID19 outbreak can be found at www.covid.lifebank.ng
What workable solutions do you suggest that the government can employ to curb the spread of the virus?
Test, Isolate and Treat. Massive testing is the first step towards curbing this disease while positive cases are quickly isolated and treated. Creating awareness about the danger and spread of the virus is also key to curbing the spread.
All hands must be on deck to fight this virus, not just the government but private companies and individuals as well.
Nigeria’s healthcare system is faced with a couple of challenges, what do you think can be done to fix them?
Infrastructure, we need to have the right infrastructure and functional state of the art medical equipment in our public hospitals.
The health sector is under funded in Nigeria and this has to change. When the government makes more investment in the health sector these challenges will be fixed as we have the right medical experts eager to get things straight.
With all the challenges that comes with entrepreneurship, especially in Nigeria, what’s the one thing that motivates and keeps you going?
The people. At LifeBank, our foundation and motivation is the people we serve, the smile on the face of a mother whose life was saved during childbirth from the blood delivered by us.
These success stories motivate and inspire me to do more. Entrepreneurship is not easy anywhere in the world, moreso in Nigeria, but I have continued to push harder and save more lives through
LifeBank despite the peculiarities that come with doing business in Nigeria.
What are the future plans for LifeBank?
At LifeBank, our plan is to continue saving more lives by expanding our operations to other African countries.
We see that Africa yearns for a more reliable healthcare service and our goal is to answer that call and spread smiles across the continent through our product and services.
From your experience as an entrepreneur, what advice would you give young African entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Be dogged and consistent, there are lots of factors that will try to pull you down, from policies to resources.
Have your eyes set on the goal and consistently give it your best. Be consistent with your thought, purpose and action.