The Root Of The Science Podcast

EP 131: Olaitan Owoyemi, Shaping the Future of Healthcare in Africa

January 15, 2024 Anne Chisa Season 5 Episode 131
The Root Of The Science Podcast
EP 131: Olaitan Owoyemi, Shaping the Future of Healthcare in Africa
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As we officially launch season 5 of the Root of the Science Podcast, we engage in a very interesting conversation with Olaitan Owoyemi from Nigeria. Oloitan is an expert in medical diagnostics and science communication.
 In this episode, he talks about some cutting-edge medical technologies and his transformative projects that are redefining the health industry across Africa.

LinkedIn: Olaitan Owoyemi
Twitter: @OlaitanLiiLii
Instagram: olaoluwaotan_olaitan

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Anne Chisa:

The Root of the Science podcast with your girl, Anne with an E. It is 2024, can you believe? It seasons. Greetings to you all, and what a pleasure it is to come back once again for a new year. Oh, my goodness, we are starting a new season and this is our fourth year running, which is absolutely incredible, and it would not have been possible without each and every one of you who is listening, has listened and, of course, will listen.

Anne Chisa:

Thank you for sharing this episode, thank you for liking, thank you for retweeting and thank you for reposting. Also importantly, thank you to every single one of the guests who's been on the show. Rather, it is such a privilege to have spoken to over 130 of you. Goodness me, I've spoken a lot. Now use your reminder that you can listen to this episode on all your favorite podcast streaming, such as Spotify, apple Podcasts, google and wherever else you listen, and make sure that you hit that notification button so that you know when a new episode is live. We also on YouTube as well. Take a listen to us there and leave a comment right there so that we can engage with you to know what you thought of that episode. We are also on social media and we are ready to engage with you there as well. Remember that if you want to chat to me this year, please send me a message on social media on Twitter, on Instagram or Facebook, or also on LinkedIn, or, alternatively, send me an email at rootofthesciencepod at gmailcom, and we as a team are so ready to create some magic this year and all the amazing things that are obviously going to happen this year ahead.

Anne Chisa:

Shall we get into today's episode? My guest today is Oloitan Owoyemi from Nigeria. Oloitan is an expert in medical solutions, a science communicator and a business development consultant. In this episode, he shares his unique insights into the dynamic field of medical solutions and we get to know what it is all about. He shares with us some of the transformative technology advancements that are currently happening in this field and also some of the projects that are shaping the future for medical solutions. We talk about some of the projects that he's been on and also talking about the medical solutions industry in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Tune in to all of this and, of course, so much more. Let's go. Hello, Oloitan, welcome to the show.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Hi Anne, Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Anne Chisa:

It is an absolute pleasure to have you on the show today. I'm so excited to get to know more about you and, of course, to hear about all of the amazing things that you do. But first things first, let's get the ball rolling. Would you kindly introduce yourself for the listeners out there?

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Yeah, my name is Oloitan Thank you for having me once again and my name is Oloitan Owoyemi. I'm a medical solutions, medical diagnostic solutions experts and a science communicator, as well as a business development consultant. So what that basically means the all ambiguities that I am very much involved in providing the best and the right to medical and research solutions for professionals in their fields. So providing technicals, technical sales and just business development recommendations for people to do great research, get funding for their research, as well as also to do great work for research and development, so contributing basically to the development of research and development for economic growth and prosperity. That's basically what I do.

Anne Chisa:

Amazing, amazing. Thank you so much for breaking it down for us, and we're gonna get into more in depth about everything that you do through the course of our conversation. But first things first. You already touched on it, but you did mention that you're a medical solutions expert. So what exactly does this involve? How do you become this person?

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Yeah, thank you for that question. Yeah, a medical solutions expert. So I would just say, do a quick background. So I am from a microbiology background and I have my second degree in microbiology as well. But beyond all of that, I remember there was a particular day where I stepped out of the lab and I was seeing to myself what other skills that I have to explore, what are apart from my wet lab experience, research experience, whatever what else can I do? And I recently noticed that I almost immediately I noticed that I could pitch myself authentically and I could speak very well.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

And so communications was it for me. So science communication came in the picture at the time. So then I started them joining projects and my biotic resistance awareness projects and all of that, advocacy projects and all of that. But basically I just wanted to also do more. So I got into the medical diagnostics and research field and it was it for me. It was it for me.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

So it is basically just so you realize that research people and medical people are not business oriented people. So you find out that maybe scientists now want a grant of a billion or narrowing dollars and it wants to just buy this equipment, buy that equipment and at the end of the day it gets there, it gets to him, it's not being fully utilized. It even ends up being there on the bench in the laboratory just for just for pictures, for pictures. So the place of being a medical solution expert is for me to be able to do some sort of consultative selling and sit down with you. Okay, you have a lot.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

You want to open a lab, you want to be able to run medical, you want to be able to run full blood count, for example. Maybe you've been doing that with them, you've been doing that with a microscope, so I can say, okay, how many working clients do you have for full blood counting a day? So let's calculate that. Let's see if that there will be. If you invest this particular amount in this machine, it will be fully utilized when you get it. Reagent will not expire on you. And what other ways can we can? What other strategies can we use to, even if you don't have the numbers, what other strategies can we use to draw? Draw samples from your community marketing strategy, draw samples and partnerships on your community and just see to it that the the machine doesn't end up useless in your lab.

Anne Chisa:

Wow, that's such an important job. And. I think it's very I don't want to say it's underrated, but in the sense that, like I think, particularly scientists, you know, as myself, we are not taught these skills right.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

So you become a scientist, do you graduate?

Anne Chisa:

you have your doctorate.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Then they say lead a research lab and a plant for grant, but you don't know these practical economic skills you don't know the market Exactly, and that's a huge problem and there's a big disconnect.

Anne Chisa:

So I think it's so important this area of expertise. It's so important so so far how has the I want to say, how has the the buy in our research and research? Researchers or scientists or organizations who you want to work with? Are they receptive to getting this type of assistance from you?

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Most definitely, most definitely. We've worked with a lot of researchers. You know we've helped them. You know, just giving them peace of mind so that they can focus with their research, because we have, we have research research, as we provide all their materials, materials and equipment for them during the course of their research and they even they are able to do quality research and win grants. For me and you know I was with one of them and she was saying, oh, thank you for the great work you did some.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Some few months back she's setting up a GMP lab, she won a grant, she's setting up a GMP lab. So we just provide the equipment, the every other thing that you know we need to provide for the lab to be effective, functioning and also sure that you save money as well too, so you don't buy things that will come in useless. So she was really thankful of the work that we did to say, oh, thank you, because if you don't supply, if you don't get good, good materials for your research, you can do good, you can get quality results. And you can't, you can't, yeah, and most of the people in the, in the, in this market, they are most times in this part of the world. They are most times uneducated traders who don't even, who are just importing, importing chemicals from, you know, from from.

Anne Chisa:

China? I really don't.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

I really don't even know the basics the basics, so we can provide this kind of consistency. Okay, you want to get this particular life circuit. What are you working on? I can tell you, get 48 tests, get 96 tests like circuit or maybe a active pharmaceutical ingredients. Maybe you don't know whether you need the, the pure analytical grade of that. Maybe you want maybe streptosocytocin or DPPH, so you don't know whether you would be needing the active pharmaceutical ingredient of that drug, the HPLC grade or the GCMS grade or the reference standard in the US pharmacopoeia. So we just provide that because we have that product knowledge so we can provide that guidance for you. And they are really just up here at the end of the day.

Anne Chisa:

Yeah, no, I can imagine and it's such fantastic work. I like what you said earlier that the scientists or the research. I can just focus on the science, because now they can do what they're good at and you know they can consult you to do what they have to do. So in your area of expertise, working in this field, particularly in the medical industry, you touched on something already about how the suppliers don't even know what they're supplying. They're just buying and trying to sell it. Apart from such things, what other significant challenges are actually prevalent in the medical industry that you've seen to date? And I'm sure you're going to focus particularly in Nigeria, because that's where you are based- yeah, yeah, exactly yeah.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

One major challenge that we have is, yes, we have competition with some of these other traders that they're bringing this chemicals for money. They just want to make money. And another basic challenge is the fact that we don't have any local manufacturer, so a lot of us we have to also still depend on foreign suppliers to get these research products. So we don't have enough governments, funding or backing to get research, to do research and manufacture research and laboratory supplies. So that's a major issue we have in Africa. So a lot of the funds that are and Lagos is an amazing and a large emerging market for it You're finding a lot of business development.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

People from manufacturing, chemical manufacturing companies in China and Germany are coming into Lagos every day, but the workload of the revenue has been repatriated back to the manufacturers country. Most times we have to even pay them in pay of manufacturers and suppliers in dollars, so it makes them it's very expensive, so research is very expensive, so people struggle to do research. If there's no funding, research is struggle and most times it's usually personally funded, so they struggle to do quality research in this part of Africa. So we need more partnerships, foreign direct investments, to come into Africa to set up manufacturing plants. So that's one major, big, major issue that we have.

Anne Chisa:

No, that's understandable. I can imagine that the funds end up going.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

It's like a leaching of funds.

Anne Chisa:

And it can be a great opportunity if people, if manufacturers do set up home in these countries, because it allows for economic development, where people can have jobs, et cetera. And yeah, that's something that is. I think it's not an Nigeria problem alone.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

I think it's an.

Anne Chisa:

African problem with the global waste and hopefully, there can be some sort of transformation, because it really does limit the economic growth of our particular countries, absolutely yeah. So further. You work with all these wonderful tools and technology. For someone who's not in the medical solutions industry or is not in the medical field at all, what are some of the key technologies and advancements that you have seen in recent years that can have really transformative impact in terms of medical solutions?

Oloitan Owoyemi:

That's AI. It's the future.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Yeah that's AI, that's the future. Any complaint, any forward thinker, thinking company, where nest the power of AI immediately? I think most of them, most of the conglomerates like Alphabet, meta, tesla, all of them already are nursing the power of AI. So I recently I'll use this one as an example I recently saw a digital health solution, and what is the digital health solution does is that it's like a chip that is embedded into the toilet seats, so it's basically on the toilet seats at the homes of patients. So whenever the patient goes to the toilet and sits down, that toilet seat takes the at the at rates and the blood pressure of the patient and sends it to his physician. So, intermittently, the at rates and blood pressure is being taken and this can just help physicians to be able to use that data to give patients their right and to get properly diagnosed their conditions and give them the right treatments. So it's really just amazing Helping. We have a lot of wearable devices, wearable device technology. We have a lot of smart watches that can do this now, a lot of wearable patches that you can just wear on your skin and it's taking data for you and then analyzing. So it's really beautiful.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

The field of technology AI artificial intelligence for digital solutions Helping physicians and specialists is very amazing. It's very amazing.

Anne Chisa:

Yeah, no, wow, that's so cool.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

I was a love.

Anne Chisa:

I love AI and what it's doing, particularly in the medical health industry, but that one about the toilets, that's mind-blowing.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Yeah, it's really amazing. There are lots. There are lots still coming on. Yeah, lots of them.

Anne Chisa:

People are so innovative, obviously, and it's exciting to see that, and just to further pull this thread of some of the exciting things that you've seen, you've clearly worked with a lot of various different scientists and you've worked on different types of projects. Would you mind sharing some or one rather that you really enjoyed working on in the past, that you and that you've been involved in in the past and some of the positive impact it's had?

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Oh, yes, I think I mentioned one already, but I will mention you pardon me to mention another one that I really liked that I really liked that I was involved. But earlier, when I started, I said that I was involved in the antibiotic resistance awareness and education training. So what we did was that we looked at the group of individuals in our communities that could help proliferate awareness for antibiotic resistance, antibiotic misuse, which is caused by antibiotic misuse and abuse. Because in this part of my country people want to go for parties, for example, and they want to be able to eat enough. So they pop in antibiotics like flagellar tetracycline to stop them from stealing. So there's a lot of misuse and abuse.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

So we looked at okay, if we get the secondary school students, if we, because we have to be able to bring our science to what everybody can understand. That's what science communication is all about. So we said, if we get the secondary school students, they will in turn educate their parents. That might not really be learned.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

And we targeted the market women too, because we know that women are like you know, of every society. So we target the market women, communicate our science to them in more contextualized science science communication that they can understand in layman terms, for them to really understand what antibiotic resistance is. So it was really beautiful. So we educated students all across various secondary schools and we educated market women as well. So that was one I really loved being a part of. And second one was that I have started up a new laboratory. So he was this particular client was abroad and he was looking to set up something here, so I was really just able to give advice on the basic entry level solutions that he can start start the lab with, and the lab is currently running running till date.

Anne Chisa:

So that's what I mentioned too, sorry about that no, the more the merrier, and you can clearly hear that you absolutely love what you do and I think it's so important. It's so important to love what you do and also the work that you, the work that you're doing, and it's got a nice blend of your communications and the science communication aspect and the science engagement aspect, which is pretty exciting.

Anne Chisa:

So, with this being said and you painting the picture of what's currently happening on the ground and some of the work that you've been part of and some of the challenges, what is your hope for the future when you think of some of the challenges and opportunities available for medical solutions, particularly for you in terms of just your career and also just overall in this particular industry?

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Yes, at some point, career-wise, I would definitely want to be involved in policy-making and nation-building.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Of course I might have to find my way into politics or probably government parasitical organizations that handle that.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

But beyond all of that, the future for medical solutions and research is to yes, we have a lot of advancing technologies out there now, but we also must be able to make solutions that are affordable for our, because the global manufacturers like Merck, merck Rush, temo Fisher, temo Scientific and all of them, they are not really making solutions for.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

They are going global by penetrating new territories, but they are not really making localized solutions for each territory they are expanding into. So we as Africans need to make medical solutions that for Africans, by Africans, that are affordable for Africans to use and buy as well too. So, developing programs that will be easy for people to research us, to assess and get these machines into their lab to do machines maybe payment plans, flexible payment plans over the years, that would just be easy for a researcher to get. Maybe it's a centrifuge that he wants, or maybe it's a code, whatever kind of machine he needs for his research. So, developing programs towards that and also looking at positioning ourselves to attract foreign direct investments to now begin to manufacture solutions for Africans by Africans.

Anne Chisa:

Absolutely. I love that solutions by Africans for Africa. It actually just quickly makes me think of that AI solution that you said, the one that you put in the toilet. I was just thinking like that's a very that's a great idea, particularly in the developed world where toilets are with the system, etc. But what of in Africa, where a lot of people do not have adequate sanitation systems? So where would you put that AI chip? So, I think, where, for example, maybe they have petalotrines or etc. So I think it's quite interesting to really think of solutions that are great as well, and not solutions that are half measured, still at the same level, but they are adapted to our environments, and to solve solutions that can really also help and benefit local people.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

So, yeah, I think it's absolutely great, absolutely yeah.

Anne Chisa:

Yeah, no, it's been so lovely chatting with you today.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

I've learned a lot and I'm sure my listeners have also learned a lot.

Anne Chisa:

Thank you for your time and thank you for speaking to me. It was such a pleasure.

Oloitan Owoyemi:

Thank you for having me Really wonderful to engage in you.

Anne Chisa:

Okay, and to everybody else who's tuned in, thank you so much for listening to another episode of the Root of the Sun podcast with your girl and with an E. Until next time, goodbye.

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