In this dispensation of digital technology reshaping industries, the healthcare sector is not excluded. The shift towards digitalization has become a key focus for service providers and business owners as Statista has confirmed that the average time spent daily by an average individual is estimated to be 5 hours as of April 2022.
As medical practitioners continue to flee from the country, insuficiency in the number of health workers remains a potent threat.
Health City, an interactive digital health platform founded by Dr. Odunola Olabintan, is creating a solution to the access to healthcare crisis using technology.
In 2016, as a medical student at Ekiti State University, Olabintan provided healthcare to the people around her.
“By the time I was in level 200, I noticed that whenever roommates, schoolmates, and sometimes seniors had questions to ask about their health, they would choose to ask me despite being in year two. Then, I didn’t even know much,” she said.
However, as she interacted with the people deeply, she noticed a huge knowledge gap and disinformation regarding healthcare, especially among the young people she treated. She assembled like-minded people to partner with.
According to her, many young Nigerians consume drugs that they do not know about, which they usually regret as they get older. A report by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime in Nigeria indicates that 14.4% (14.3 million) of people aged between 15 and 64 years abuse drugs which include non-alcoholic substances.
After a few physical meetings where she invited medical professionals as facilitators, the pandemic began. It dawned on Olabintan that the target audience was no longer reachable physically, which meant that she needed to integrate her solution into an accessible digital world. “So, we launched the website,” Olabintan said about the commencement of the technology aspect of the organization.
Olabintan’s Health City is a tech-enabled social enterprise whose work focuses on preventive health services and education. “Through our website, we provide preventive health education for adolescents and young people in order to reduce the incidence and prevalence of chronic and infectious diseases, she described.
“But we realized that the majority of the people that came back with more questions were people with sexual health questions. Questions that should be answered by professionals we connect them with.
“So our website helps people speak with medical professionals for as low as N1,000. This innovation is solving the problem of accessing accurate medical and healthcare information among adolescents, especially regarding sexual health without stigma,” she said.
While helping the young people to have sexual healthcare without the infiltration of the shame attached, it is assisting West Africa to not be backward in health technology and innovation, which made the Health City win the support of Global Alliance Africa’s Youth Innovator in 2023.
Olabitan identified finance as the biggest challenge she faced in reaching the goals she set for the organization. “We want to do good and make profit. We need the money to get the business to where we want it to be. Our target audience are young people; this calls for money to market,” Olabintan said.
Speaking further, Olabintan said that there has been great feedback from her product, which is Health City as “Last year alone, we were able to reach about 50 thousand people through our website within and outside Nigeria.
“We have our team made up of young people. So we reach the audience with creative content. Also, our marketing is very audience specific. We use online marketing: social media marketing and email marketing—to reach people where they are,” she told Prime Progress.
With 15 staff, mostly young people, word spread across the country, and the organisation was able to reach more than 50 thousand people in 2023.
While The Future 2022 Award Nominee, Olabintan aspires to continue breaking barriers and setting an example for women in the health sector, she said The Health City’s vision is to be the number one source of health information for adolescents and young people in Africa.