10 July 2018Africa

LSIPR 50 2018: Helping to shape the healthcare landscape

Very few people are able to say that they have helped to shape the healthcare landscape of a country. Temie Giwa-Tubosun is one of them. So widespread has been her influence, that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg celebrated her achievements.

After Giwa-Tubosun learned that the biggest cause of maternal mortality in Africa was postpartum haemorrhaging—where women bleed heavily after birth—and she herself had difficulty giving birth, Giwa-Tubosun decided to take action and leave her footprint on her home nation, Nigeria.

According to the founder of LifeBank, haemorrhaging kills 26,000 women every year in Nigeria, and can also affect children under five who have malaria, accident victims and cancer patients.

This was just one major health issue facing her country that Giwa-Tubosun identified. Another was the lack of infrastructure to move donated blood for transfusion to where it is needed on time and in the right condition.

From this, LifeBank was born. The LifeBank app runs two services: an intuitive blood donor database that inspires Africans to give blood and save lives in their community, and an enterprise marketplace for hospitals and blood banks.

Blood is a scarce commodity in Nigerian hospitals, according to Giwa-Tubosun. “It would be easy to say the reason for this is that Nigerians don’t like giving blood,” she says. But that’s not the way the innovator sees it.

“I believe the reason for a shortage of blood is that in Nigeria we haven’t built an intuitive system that makes it easy to give blood, and we also haven’t communicated to the public on why giving blood is so important.”

She cites the World Health Organization’s claims that if a minimum of 1% of a country’s population donate blood three times a year, the country could meet its basic requirement for blood.

To meet the shortfall, there has been a heavy reliance on “highly inefficient” substitutes for voluntary donations. She says that 60% of all blood used in Nigeria comes from commercial donors, and 30% from family members who are related to the person requiring the blood transfusion. In 2014, only 2.9% of the blood supply needed was collected by voluntary donations.

“We launched the LifeBank App, an e-health app connecting voluntary donors to blood banks, to address this need,” explains Giwa-Tubosun.

How it works

The first stage of the donor app connects the blood donor with the nearest blood bank. On the day of the donation, blood is taken and small rewards are given to the donor. For example, donors earn points that can be redeemed for things such as movie tickets, coffee and other small gifts.

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