Sunday, 16 July 2017

How Can Nigerian Health Tech Startups Build Sustainable Businesses?

digital health in Africa
Health Meets Tech

Between the 30th of June and 2nd of July, medical doctors, software developers, graphic designers, business development guys and many others gathered at the Co-creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos for a hackathon called "Health Meets Tech" which was organized by a partnership of Digital Health Nigeria, EpiAfric and Facebook, and covered by the Nigeria Health Watch. Throughout the 3-day period 5 different teams, each comprising of medical doctors and other healthcare workers, software developers, graphic designers, business people and so on, worked on an idea that would leverage technology to improve an aspect of healthcare in Nigeria. I joined the program on the second and final day during which I went round to interact with each of the teams on what they were building. My interaction focused on the healthcare problem each team was trying to solve; whether this healthcare problem was a recurring pain point for the target market; the willingness of the target market to pay for the solution that was being built to address the healthcare problem; whether the business is for profit or a social enterprise; and the sustainability of the model on which the business will be built.

Monday, 3 October 2016

The Need for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education in Nigeria's Tertiary Institutions

According to the late Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world. This is very true at every level of education, beginning from the formative stage (basic education) where a solid foundation is laid; but the most evident manifestation of this Nelson Mandela quote is seen at the tertiary level. Tertiary education provides a platform which enables any individual to harness the foundational principles acquired during their formative education stages to learn and develop specialized knowledge, with the sole purpose of creating a new value chain whose applications make far-reaching progressive impacts on the society.
creativity and innovation
What and which places spark and drive innovation?

Hence, one of the fundamental aims of tertiary education is the creation of new value chains. This means that tertiary education, in its true calling, does not produce individuals who end up in different industries/sectors of the economy doing only routine jobs that require no form of human ingenuity and creativity. In its pure form, tertiary education institutions are the centers of innovation and creativity, with teaching methodology and curricula constantly adjusting to the socioeconomic dynamics of their environment and the world at large. This very attribute has characterized world-class tertiary institutions like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford, the University of California campuses, and so on because at the heart of their ever-adapting curricula and teaching models lies creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

How Self-Driving Tractors, Drones and Virtual Reality will Transform Agriculture in Nigeria

Technology has enabled tremendous advances in every area of human life in every part of the world; but the rate of that advancement has been different and much slower in the emerging economies—Nigeria and most other African countries especially. That the technology community has been abuzz for the past one week because of Mark Zuckerberg’s first visit to Africa—Nigeria first and then Kenya—is something that a lot of young Nigerians have come to see as the beginning of a never-before-seen technology revolution that will sweep across the country and continent. Many young talented Nigerians are using technology to solve local problems, ranging from education through transportation to healthcare, and some of these were showcased to Zuckerberg during his visit at the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos.

While these tech solutions to local problems were commended by Zuckerberg, he also stressed, during a Question & Answer session for entrepreneurs and developers, that Nigeria and Africa have the talent to solve relevant global challenges. There are so many global problems today craving ground-breaking solutions; but one of such problems whose solutions can come from Africa is food security through agriculture not only because of how technology can be applied to scale agricultural production but also due to the fact that more than half of the earth’s arable lands, that can be exploited for agriculture without harming the green ecosystem, is in Africa. This means that applying the right technology in agriculture could turn Africa into the food hub of the world, and there’s need to start work now not just for the sake of the world but also for the food safety of our country and the entire continent: Nigeria’s population is estimated to surpass that of the US by 2050, making the country the 3rd most populous in the world, and a strong food security will certainly prevent a lot of problems.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Understanding the link between Zika Virus and Microcephaly (babies with small heads)

Baby with small head (microcephaly) born to a woman
infected with
Zika virus. Image credit to  CTV News

In the last few months, the world still recovering from the terror of the Ebola virus, has woken up to a new one in the shape of the Zika virus. And what makes this one a terrorist, unlike Ebola which kills its hosts and is very highly contagious, is the strongly emerging evidence of it being responsible for a condition called microcephaly in babies of mothers infected with the virus while they were pregnant (a medical condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads) as the virus has been isolated from the umbilical cord of these babies and from their mothers' blood. Microcephaly results from either a small brain substance volume; the premature closure of the sutures of the skull bones, or defects in skull bone growth and development, all of which then limit the growth of the brain substance to below the normal size. While the cause of these problems leading to an abnormally small head is multi-factorial, ranging from hereditary genetic disorders to environmental players like inadequate intake of some vital supplements by the pregnant woman and exposure to radiation in pregnancy---it's very vital to work out, in the smallest of details, how the Zika virus has come to be a player and the various mechanisms with which it likely employs to achieve this mischievous feat.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Finding A Curative And Preventive Basis For Mental Illness.

Mentally ill people need help not stigma
Image credit to Imagebuddy

I just finished a 4-week rotation through Psychiatry, and I must say I have learnt a lot about the disorders of the mind. Before the rotation, I used to have this stigma and nausea towards anything that has to do with mental illness and those with it because of the way the society has painted them--they are mad people. But the truth is people with illness of the mind are normal human beings with families, friends, dreams and ambitions; some have good education and are in different professions. Our first lecture introduced us to Psychiatry, and in it I learnt that everyone's mind is like an elastic spring suspended from a hook, with a board on one end. Now, life drops different loads on this board (what we call psychological stressors--challenges and trials), which stretch the elastic spring (remember Hooke's Law in Physics); but almost all the time, our minds will return to their original length after a "normal brief period" of reacting to the stretching (in the form of crying, sadness, feeling depressed, losing interest in everything, fear and anxiety, and so on) when we've got over the psychological stressors (every challenging period passes). It's important to note that some people's minds have higher elastic limits than others' (they can withstand much more severe psychological stressors than others) because of their genetic makeup. Hence, when those whose minds have low threshold for withstanding challenges are faced with very severe psychological stressors, their minds are stretched beyond their elastic limits and what results is mental illness--a state in which their minds remains in this stretched mode for an unusual length of time, in the form of depression, mania, obsession, hallucinations, compulsion, changes in personality and so on.