Temie: FG, Private Sector Partnership Vital in Health Sector

Temie Giwa-Tubosun is the Founder and CEO of Life Bank, a medical distribution company, that works with hospitals and other stakeholders by supplying lifesaving medical products, across some states of the country. Since inception about four years ago, Life Bank has successfully moved 21,608 medical products to 1,085 hospitals from 5,902 blood donors and, consequently, saved the lives of 8,025 patients. In this interview she speaks about her partnership with Sterling Bank Plc. Hamid Ayodeji brings the excerpts:

What inspired your decision to set up Life Bank?
What inspired us is our commitment to save lives in our community and solve critical health problems in Nigeria and on the African continent. We are first of a kind but there are similar companies like us that use drones to deliver medical supplies.

Looking back, are you satisfied with the images on your table and the future you dreamt of?
The goal we have is to expand across Nigeria and being able to serve every Nigerian by scaling to every city in the country and delivering medical supplies to save lives. We are presently operating in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt and we plan to open in Kaduna and a few other states soon. Our main concern is to expand across Nigeria and really be of use to hospitals.

What are the challenges you have encountered in the course of this work?
We have encountered a couple of challenges because of the capital intensive nature of our business but we will continue to solve the issue of capital by speaking to different investors who may be interested in our business. Other problems are low purchasing power of the citizenry and issues around infrastructure.

Why did you choose this project in spite of the current economic situation in the country?
We chose to build Life Bank because it was a problem that no one was interested in fixing and we know we have the best model to solve the problem across the country. Absolutely, we have seen a lot of growth in terms of where we are going. In our COVID-19 work, we have done quite a lot. We have two testing centres and we are expanding access to oxygen. In just four years of operation, we have been able to go to some places and have been of value to some people and it is something we are proud of.

Why did you choose to work with Sterling Bank on the project?
We chose to work with Sterling Bank in our Lagos COVID-19 testing centre because it has shown itself as a business that is interested in the community where it works and not just interested in extracting value and spending it on itself. We are happy to partner with it on this project.

How has your partnership experience with Sterling Bank been?
It has been really excellent and we are quite surprised that it has been able to execute payments and all the things we needed. So, it has been a rather useful experience of working with a big institution that acts quickly.

What is your take on the plan by the bank to extend the intervention to other parts of the country following the rise in number of cases in states like Osun, Oyo and Akwa Ibom, among others?
It is a positive development. Let all hands be on deck. We all have our part to play in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

How many beneficiaries did you target in this project or what are your success metrics?
We targeted 2,000 beneficiaries and we are on course so far.

What is your take on the Nigerian health care industry?
I feel positive about the industry. Although, we have lacked investment for so long, we are beginning to see a lot of private sector participation. Also, hospitals and pharmacies are growing and a lot of innovations are springing up such as Flying Doctors Nigeria Limited, among others. For instance, Premium Health and others have just completed fund raising from investors. Our goal is to be able to convince the federal government to partner with private operators in the industry so that we can scale up. I also think the government has realised how much investment is needed in the sector now.

The goal is to ensure that the idea remains post-COVID-19 so that the federal government can partner with companies and institutions that have the know-how to solve some of the problems of the industry. For instance, in Nigeria today, Life Bank has experience in how to deliver every medical supply from hand gloves, blood plasma and oxygen, among others, to hospitals but there is room to partner with institutions that can solve this problem.

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