In this episode of Five Minutes, we speak with Dr Ikpeme Neto from Wella Health.
Wella Health is a digital innovation that allows users to request Rapid Diagnostic Tests for malaria via WhatsApp and makes access to treatment generally more accessible. In this interview, Ikpeme tells us more about Wella Health and gives advice to others wanting to start a social enterprise or NGO.
This is Five Minutes with Dr Ikpeme Neto, on the Fight Malaria Blog.
Q: What is your biggest life lesson or key takeaway from this interview that you would like to stick with readers?
My biggest life lesson is to find your passion and relentlessly pursue it. Be dogged, because things will always be hard but I’vs seen that as I’ve pursued my passion, I’ve been happier and I’ve been able to help people be healthier and happier in their own lives. So my key takeaway is to find your passion and pursue it relentlessly.
Q: Briefly tell us what Wella Health is.
Wella Health is a service that enables people that have symptoms of malaria to book a test and treatment service online and then go to a pharmacy that’s near then to access a malaria test. Now, depending on the result of that test, they get a malaria package given to them. If it’s positive, they get an anti-malaria drug and if it’s negative, they don’t, they just get information on malaria and some treatments to help them symptomatically.
Q: Tell us more about yourself. What is your passion?
I’m an internal medical physician with a real interest in trying to provide care that is scalable to as many people as possible. Being in Africa, I am particularly interested in making this happen across Africa. The statistics for how the number of healthcare professionals that are in Africa is quite depressing, most people will not be able to access one. So my passion is really around using technology to enable people that would ordinarily not have access to quality care to gain that access. That is why I founded Wella Health and that’s why I work on the social enterprise that I do.
Q: What advice would you give to others wanting to start a social enterprise or a nonprofit organisation?
My advice for people that want to start a social enterprise or nonprofit organisation is just one word, be dogged. It’s gonna be hard and it’ll be very tricky but I think that if you’re persistent, that you believe in what you’re working on, then ultimately you’ll be able to see it come true. It’s often easy to give up at the first sign of an obstacle but I would say be bothered, persevere because the goal at the end is so worth it.
KEYWORD: Dogged, to be persistent and determined.
Q: What were your biggest challenges up until now?
My biggest challenge I would say has really been around trying to really understand what people want. Trying to create solutions that speak to them and trying to get them to adopt your solutions. These are challenges I continue to face and continue to try and understand the people I view solutions for. Being a physician and having experience from multiple markets, it can be tricky sometimes to really understand what people want and how to access them the way that they would want the service done and so I continue to understand the markets that I view for and the people that I serve.
Q: What are the happiest moment with Wella Health?
My happiest moments with Wella Health have been times when we have provided solutions for people and they’ve come back to us to tell us how happy they were with the solutions or how we’ve been able to improve their health and wellbeing. We’ve been really elated to get feedback like that, it really can’t be described and that’s the kind of feedback that pushes us to do more, to create more happy moments for the people that we meet and make sure that they are happy and healthy.
Q: What future do you hope to create?
The future that I want to see is really in Nigeria and Africa as a whole where malaria is no longer a burden. We are starting off with trying to get testing and treatment more accessible but the goal ultimately with the information we provided particularised is to help people to try and prevent malaria in the first instance so that the future comes where we don’t even have to worry about malaria, it will be a thing of the past and we can focus on other things that plague us and other diseases that are common in the future but I want a future where malaria doesn’t exist anymore.
Q: How can readers participate in helping to achieve this?
The best way that you can help us achieve this future of no malaria is to help us on social media by liking and sharing our work and our pages by retweeting or sharing and by helping us to reach a greater audience so that people will be aware of the services we provide and we can try and get malaria out.