The 2020 Laureates of the Cartier Women’s Initiative have just been announced, and the inspirational LifeBank Founder, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, has just been named as the Sub-Saharan African Laureate. LifeBank is a medical distribution company that uses data and technology to discover and deliver essential medical products to hospitals in Nigeria.
Speaking about her recognition as the Cartier Women’s Initiative Laureate 2020 for Sub-Saharan Africa, Temie said: “If there is one thing I want you to know, it’s that we are who we’ve been waiting for and we are not afraid. Thank you Cartier Awards for this honour. If you are a woman in business, watch this space!”
There’s a reason for the term “life blood”. When a person loses excessive blood, there may be only minutes to act. In many parts of Africa, those minutes can slip away as healthcare workers scramble to locate scarce blood supplies. Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder of medical distribution company LifeBank, is on a mission to solve this challenge. Blood shortages in Nigeria contribute to the deaths of 152,000 anemic children and 37,000 pregnant women each year and are responsible for innumerable complications for women immediately after childbirth. The World Health Organization has identified postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) as a major cause of maternal death worldwide, with higher risk in developing countries.
“A woman who carries a baby, who gives birth to a baby, should get to watch that baby grow up. It’s our responsibility to ensure that maternal death during childbirth becomes something of history.” — Temie Giwa-Tubosun
GETTING BLOOD WHERE IT’S NEEDED, 24 HOURS A DAY
Temie Giwa-Tubosun became a mother about six years ago. Although the birth was difficult, she had immediate access to a lifesaving operation. Her experience contrasted starkly with that of a young mother she had met a few years earlier in Kano, Nigeria, who nearly died after three days in labor. The disparity between their experiences led Temie to think seriously about maternal healthcare. “I found out that about 34 percent of all maternal deaths in Africa are from postpartum hemorrhage. Basically, a mother gives birth and then she starts bleeding, and within a couple of hours she’s dead. Although I didn’t have postpartum hemorrhage myself, I felt it was such a huge cause of maternal death that if we could solve this we would save a lot of mothers.”
Temie started LifeBank in 2016 to bring vital medical supplies, including blood, to people who need them, when they need them. In addition to blood products, LifeBank delivers products like emergency medical oxygen cannisters, platelets, plasma, and vaccines. “LifeBank is a medical distribution company,” she says. “We help hospitals find critical supplies and deliver them in the right condition and on time, round the clock, in three cities in Nigeria.” The company can get blood to any hospital in its service area within 55 minutes, day or night, so doctors can focus on treating patients rather than on the logistics of locating blood.
LifeBank concentrates on what Temie calls “the four Ds,” data, discovery, delivery, and donors. “First, we gather inventory information,” she says. “There are 60 blood suppliers in Lagos. Every day we ask what products they have available and they tell us their stock. Second is discovery. Hospitals call in to our call center and tell us how many pints of blood they need. And then we deliver using motorcycles or boats. Last year we started using drones to deliver in Ethiopia.” For the final ‘D,’ LifeBank has created a platform that helps members of the public become blood donors. The company also has built a system that uses block chain technology to record and preserve the integrity of information about the blood supply.
“Imagine a world where zero women die from postpartum hemorrhage. I think we’ll make the world a better place, and that’s what we’re trying to do.” — Temie Giwa-Tubosun
LIFEBANK’S IMPACT GOES BEYOND NUMBERS
Mrs. Alake, a patient who benefited from the company’s blood delivery, put it plainly: “Without LifeBank, I won’t be alive right now.” Since its launch, the company has transported more than 20,000 units of blood and other medical products, served 450 hospitals, engaged 5,823 donors, and saved 6,757 lives. The impact of LifeBank deliveries is shown on the face of the little girl who will not grow up motherless and in the laughter of the couple that can hold hands today because LifeBank rushed blood to the husband’s bedside after an accident. Temie says of her commitment, “I care deeply. For me LifeBank is a huge passion that I have sacrificed an immense amount of things for. This is what I was meant to do with my life.”
“This is what I was meant to do with my life. I feel a sense of calling while solving this problem.” — Temie Giwa-Tubosun
SAVING A MILLION LIVES ACROSS AFRICA
LifeBank’s ambitious mission is to save a million lives across Africa in 10 years and to reach all of Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and South America to deliver critical supplies around the clock, eventually becoming a profitable public company. “Imagine a world where zero women die from postpartum hemorrhage,” Temie says. “I think we’ll make the world a better place, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”