Business Health Women Who Lead

LifeBank Founder, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Wants to Put an End to Preventable Postpartum Hemorrhage Deaths

LifeBank

Nothing puts life into perspective quite like a pandemic does—especially when your career revolves around preserving it.

The coronavirus pandemic has held many different faces around the world, materializing and impacting communities in developing nations differently than what has been seen in North America. With numerous barriers to effectively curb active cases, many have called for an overhaul of infrastructure that focused more on health and community sustainability

“The inadequate supply of blood is responsible for an estimated 50,000 annual deaths of sickle cell patients, 40,000 cancer patients and 17,000 accident victims in Nigeria alone. This limited availability of blood is also linked to the high child mortality rate of the most vulnerable children,” says Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO of LifeBank. 

Nigerian-American health manager Temie Giwa-Tubosun is the creator and brains behind the supply-based health care company. The B2B company delivers oxygen and blood and supplies to hospitals and health facilities, to help improve Africa’s health system.

While giving birth, Giwa-Tubosun suffered a Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH). Although the incident caused a number of complications, the hospital was equipped to work through it. However, PPH is the leading cause for women in Africa who die from complications encountered while giving birth at 60 percent. Frustrated by the high maternal mortality rate and death from preventable causes like a lack of blood supply or oxygen, Giwa-Tubosun developed a business plan that would increase resources and reduce preventable deaths.  

“After that experience during the birth of my first child,” says Giwa-Tubosun. “I made up my mind that no one has to die because of lack of access to blood or other medical products.” 

Since launching, LifeBank has successfully helped to save over 8000 lives simply through adequate distribution of supplies. Recognized and celebrated around the world, Giwa-Tubosun has completed fellowships with  the World Health Organization and worked on the United Nations Development Program to improve the state of healthcare globally. 

Most recently, she has been honoured in Cartier’s Women’s Initiative that celebrates female leaders innovating and re-defining excellence in their respective fields. 

For this week’s Women Who Lead spotlight, we spoke with Temie Giwa-Tubosun about founding LifeBank, how Africa can support health care through improved infrastructure and what it means to be a woman in medicine. 

Q&A

In what ways specifically is the health care system in Nigeria and neighbouring countries failing to provide what patients need? 

Nigeria in particular and Africa at large is known for its lack of real infrastructure. Infrastructure is another thing that makes quality healthcare delivery difficult, we need to have the right infrastructure and functional state of the art medical equipment in our public hospitals. The health sector is also underfunded 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.

Your company has now successfully saved over 8000 lives, what drives you to keep innovating?

What drives me to solve this problem are several personal encounters with maternal deaths. These encounters occurred in a Northern Nigerian village where I met a woman who had been in labour for two days because there was no blood readily available to replenish what she had lost. 

In a pandemic, how does LifeBank operate to provide needed supplies and health care? Have you had to make any changes in daily processes to accommodate spikes in demand? If so how have you as a business leader navigated that change? 

As a business we have continued to deliver essential medical products despite the spike in demand due to the COVID-19. Beyond that, we currently support the government in providing expertise to curb the spread of the virus.  We have set up drive thru and walk thru testing centres 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 centres 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

To pivot slightly and talk about your role as a business leader, in your opinion what is the key to starting and running a successful business?

Be focussed 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.

As a woman, in the medical profession in Nigeria, what challenges or roadblocks have you faced and how did (or continue to) overcome them?

The challenges faced by women in comparison to men are common around the world. Being a woman however, has not been a roadblock to achieving my goals. As a woman, the pressure to prove oneself might be there more than the men but I think we all can use that as a motivation to shatter records especially in male dominated industries. 

What do you see as your next big achievement both personally and professionally?

Personally, leading the team at LifeBank and putting smiles on the faces of our patients is fulfilling for me. Professionally, I see that Africa yearn 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.

What is your dream for LifeBank? When determining success, how do you measure your achievements? 

To continue saving lives across the continent is my dream, to save 1 million lives. Success to me is about 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.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give other women with similar aspirations in your field?

Be consistent with your thought, purpose and action.