For this week’s Bold & Beautiful, Indy Press correspondent, Samuel Olowolayemo, interviewed Nwuta Chidinma, a 300-level student of MBBS. She is the current Health Minister for Queen Idia Hall, a product manager and the founder of Medherent.
In this interview, she spoke about her lifestyle, school, tech, and a host of other things. Enjoy!
Good afternoon Miss Dinma, Can we meet you?
Hi, I’m Nwuta Chidinma, a 300L Medical Student. I’m a product manager and the co-founder of Medherence, a digital health platform that aims to reduce medication non-adherence among people with chronic diseases. I’m also the health minister of Queen Idia Hall and the chairperson of the health committee of the University of Ibadan Student Union.
Considering all you mentioned, and for the fact that you’re a medical student, how are you able to juggle these together?
Okay, you know how people talk about time management, mostly? I deal with focused management, because even if I manage my time well, as well as I want to, I won’t achieve much because I’m probably not focused because there are many things going through my mind. So I try as much to focus on one thing at a particular time. Even if I’m involved in too much, I try to plan my day out and write everything I need to do for the week, and then I use my Google calendar — my best friend, cause I tend to forget some meetings and some other engagements. So I focus on one thing and not on so many things at once.
You said you found Medherent. I suppose it’s your personal project. So in that sense, are you an entrepreneur?
Yes, it’s my personal project and I’m a student entrepreneur. Nobody is paying us to do the job for them so it’s something we did. Making it our personal projects.
How did Medherence come to be?
Early this year, around February, there was this competition organized by the federal government to build an app. I wanted to build a digital health solution. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I had a lot of ideas but they weren’t looking complete in my head so I went to meet someone I knew with a similar interest in digital health, my co-founder, Olayiwola Olaitan. We shared ideas and he told me about a project he was working on for medication adherence for people with HIV/AIDS.
That night, we discussed other ways we could do medication adherence. We decided to tailor the solution to people with chronic diseases. That’s Medherence’s story.
Will you encourage that your fellow students become entrepreneurs?
It’s not for everyone. Funny thing, before the strike I did not think entrepreneurship was for me. I thought I couldn’t be having headaches because something is not working well. But then I realised some things will not get done until you start doing them your self, then you understand the space you want to be. But then, it’s not for everyone.
If I’ll be right calling you a tech sis, aside being a tech sis, what are your interests?
Yes I’m . I’m mostly interested in Digital health. In fact the reason why I’m a tech sis is because of digital health. Because there are not a lot of people in digital health compared to fintech, proptech, insuretech and all. Also, digital health is not really big in Africa like that.
Earlier this semester you won a Hackathon contest and one other recently, what were they about and what niche(s) did you promote or provide solution for?
Okay, for the first one I won, it was tech in heels. It was for a community I was part of, for females in the tech community called Tech in Heels. So we were to pitch a product, technical product and my pitch came first because it was judged based on feasibility, sustainability and basically the overall pitching that could tell if your business model made sense, if your product was envisioned to stay in the market.
So I came first in that. Then the recent one, it’s a Uninnovators competition. It’s for three countries, Nigeria, Namibia and Kenya. It’s organized by Cchub, a company co-owned by Bosun Tijani, the current minister of communication, innovation and digital economy in Nigeria and there are six universities in this competition partnered with cchub. 256 teams applied for the competition, but only 30 teams were picked, that is 10 teams per country, and 5 teams per university. The first stage of the competition was the first picking where we were picked as part of the 30 teams of a 256 application.
Afterwards, we were to participate in an incubator process, a training where we were to refine our products, the business model and learn to understand our products more. In all sense of it, after the program, our solution and business model changed a bit because it opened our eyes to see the problem on a much wider spectrum. So on Mondays we went to the centre for entrepreneurship and innovation, UI in bodija from about 9 – 2pm. After the sessions, every week, we have assignments and one-on-one sessions with someone from the organizing team. Coupling that with medical school was a lot, and was really tasking as that was the time we had a lot of tests. But we were able to scale through as we went to Lagos for the finale of the second stage and we were picked as one of the 6 teams out of 10 in Nigeria. Out of the 3 teams from UI, I was the only undergraduate team lead, as others were master students, and it was a proud moment for me.
In your entrepreneurship journey and as a medical student, what has been your challenges so far?
There are opportunities that come out and I am certain I’ll get them. But because I see the date and I see medical school’s calendar, having tests or exam clashes. That’s like an opportunity wasted, but I know my time will come. But at times, it’s saddening, October and March are times tech opportunities are mostly made available. For example, in the last hackathon, I had to miss a test, but luckily, I was able to get permission because Cchub was partnering with UI. This is the challenge I face right now.
Are you a feminist? What’s your view about Feminism.
People mis-define feminism. Feminism is gender equality meaning what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Doesn’t have to be the goose every single time. It’s not about hating men. In fact, there’s a word for having hate towards men — misogyny, which is what many people who claim to be feminists are doing. If people are feminist, they will be looking for ways to equalise the balance between male and females. For examples, in areas and places where we have more men and less females, if people try to say let’s create more opportunities for females so the scale balances out, that’s feminism. But if you say the scale as balanced out but let’s still create more opportunities for them, that’s not feminism.
But some popular view on feminism says whatever opportunity is available for one should be available for all, and not gender specific. How do you see that?
Yes, it should be for all. But you know, in some university, there are more males than females and that could somehow be owned to the ideology of some parents on not sending female children to school. In such case, people make scholarship specific for females to encourage them to come to school irrespective of their challenges.
What genre of music and movie do you do, do you watch anime?
I listen to Lizzo alot, and I watch a whole lot of movies but I’m not a fan of anime, I get bored watching them.
You’re the health minister of Idia Hall, what was your drive into politics?
I’m not a politics person. I don’t like politics, it was never part of my plans to join politics per say. I became the health minister of Idia because I just like the fact that it’s a health related matter and a position where I can introduce health tech and generally good health and wellness for Idiates. And then I just wanted to introduce good health and wellness for idiates basically, not the fact that I was trying to move up on the political scale. I’m not really interested in politics. I’m more of an impact side-line person. Yes, my name might be out there, but then I don’t want to be politicking. Politics in UI is a dirty game, if you don’t have the heart please don’t participate in it.
How’s been your experience been the health minister of Idia. Talk about your plans and your efforts to achieve them?
So the first part of my plan has been achieved — the whole floor reps being educated on first aid and everyone knowing first aid, basically, it’s been achieved. But one thing that I and every health minister face is being called upon — for example, in the middle of the night, when I’m trying to turn in an assignment. I’ve left my room by 2am to someone’s room to attend to an ear-pus health issue that caused screaming, which I had to primarily intervene by clearing the pus after calling JAJA and they weren’t forthcoming on time. By the time Jaja came, I had already been done clearing the pus.
We went to JAJA still, and was there till 4am. I was having class the next day.
What is your view and experience on Aro-ism?
I think it’s foolish, because why will you see a girl walking past and you feel like you’re hailing the girl, when indeed you’re making her uncomfortable. Ziks don’t do this anymore, but there are some Katangites in C blocks that stand on their balcony, and of course Idiates pass along the side to their hostel, and they shout making them uncomfortable. I receive reports about it and I’ve taken it up in the past. Although it has generally reduced, they’re still complaining.
Who inspires you. Who are those you’re looking up to in Meditech or other interests?
There are a lot of people who motivate me, firstly is Dr. Costly Aderibigbe, she’s a medical doctor. She’s a survivor of female genital mutilation. She has an NGO and she is now a Pan-African leader who speaks around the world, invited to AU and WHO conferences and she’s someone I talk to as a friend. She inspires me.
Vivian Awosiku, also inspires me. She graduated from UI BMLS, and right now she’s really doing well. She started an initiative of digital health Africa herself which has sub-branches. She spearheads that and they are thriving, even with the fact that she still has her own personal work. It interests me, the ability to juggle many things in the health tech space. I have reached out to her before. She celebrates my wins.
What is digital health to the layman?
Digital health is simply technology basis that promotes SDG-3 even the simplest of a glucometer, up to Electrocardiograpgh are under digital health. People say it’s not really prompted in Africa. Most of its products in Africa are imported. If we stop importing them it adds up to our economy. Digital health is broad having sub-sectors.
Are you single?
It’s complicated. Okay I’m single but I don’t want anybody in my dm, I will be airing you.
Is there any mantra or quote that guide you?
There’s one thing my friend do say, tough time never last only tough people do. Jim kwik also said this, “ Pick your hard”. So it motivates me to rather do these hard things now and have the life I desire after medical school. A lot of opportunities are out there for student entrepreneurs than those that have graduated.
Any advice you have for people looking up to you in your space?
Do your research very well. I never made this mistake because I have been a product manager before I went into Digital health. So I have been used to making research and findings about market and competition before doing anything.
Are you planning to practice after medical school?
I’m planning to do my housemanship and get my licence, after that I don’t think I will practice. Or I might, I don’t know. I think I will just wait to see what life has in store for me.
Is there any way UI has impacted your journey. What’s your most memorable experience in UI?
On Thursday I’ll be speaking to lecturers in Nigeria on entrepreneurship and innovation. And I was picked for that opportunity because UI is organizing this year’s conference. And giving the fact that I was a team lead that qualified from UI. They loved the fact that I was intentional about innovation and creation, because after that time I reached out to the director of the centre for entrepreneurship and innovation on an idea and she told me I’ll be on a particular conference to speak to lecturers on the event. So being it was my most memorable experience in UI and being a UI-ite.
If you have the opportunity to change anything in UI what will it be?
They are a lot. But one thing that pains me a lot is the response time for emergency. I get to call them and they don’t come till like 30 minutes after. During the day, we could get tricycle, but past ten it’s hard. It’s one thing I’ll love to change.
What do you think about Katangites?
I think you are just okay, nothing special. Indy and Idia are always fighting. If it’s not water it’s something else.
What do you think of an INDY-IDIA dinner at the end of the session?
You guys see yourself as a republic, you don’t have dinners.
You could bring proposal. I don’t think we’ll accept though, but you can shoot a shot.
Do you believe in One-Ngeria?
Yes I do. But I’m not comfortable about the administration of the country.
Kiss, Kill and Marry; Ashake, Davido and Burnaboy.
It’s tough. Put WizKid inside and I’ll kill him. It’s tough killing any of the three.
Will you like to share your social media handle(s)?
Yes, my LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/chidinmanwuta and Twitter https://twitter.com/dinmaly
Give a parting word.
Nothing is ever easy but you have to know how to encourage yourself to do more. You might get many Ls in a day but don’t be discouraged.
Miss Dinma, thanks for coming around for the interview.
You’re welcome .