Fellow Portrait

Yetunde Ayo-Oyalowo

Market Doctors

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Market Doctors provides affordable basic medical services to Nigeria’s underserved population.

03. Good Health and Well-being

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Anglophone and Lusophone Africa

NIGERIA

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Fellow

2021

Economic and practical barriers to good health

If you are one of millions of Nigerians in the informal employment sector who rely on daily income to survive, chances are slim that you’ll seek healthcare if you fall ill. You depend on what you earn each day, and going to the hospital would mean losing a day’s income. You may live in a rural area far from the city hospital and you probably have no insurance.

Dr. Yetunde Ayo Oyalowo saw this first-hand as a doctor and when she worked in the insurance sector. But a solution came to her only when she combined her medical expertise with her past experience as a boutique owner. She asked herself, “Where is the place that connects everybody?” The answer? “It's the market. The market in Africa is like a mall in Europe. Everybody goes there.”

I took a canopy to a busy market, sat down with a friend who was a nurse, and began ringing a bell and telling people that there was a doctor in the market. People were stunned to see a doctor just sit down in an open market. The number of people that came by showed me there was something in it.

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Bringing healthcare to where it’s needed

Yetunde’s company, Market Doctors, brings healthcare to a location many Nigerians visit almost daily—the market—as well as to people’s homes. A team of health workers goes from stall to stall in the market or house to house in the community. The team carries medical devices to measure blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, as well as perform other tests depending on the patient’s complaint. Health workers use mobile devices to connect by voice or video with medical doctors to confirm diagnoses and prescriptions. And they can dispense drugs on the spot. All of this removes the significant barriers of time, cost, and distance that have prevented so many Nigerians from accessing basic healthcare.

Traveling in a school bus that has been converted into a mobile clinic, Market Doctors serve consumers who don’t have access to primary healthcare. The company also works with non-profit organizations that want to support medical services and with non-governmental organizations. Since it began in 2018, Market Doctors has employed 243 doctors who have provided care to 145,000 patients.

The company is expanding into some unexpected business areas, for example, by forging partnerships with microfinance organizations that want to ensure the health of their beneficiaries. “We are beginning to add in those kinds of opportunities. We're trying to build capacity in areas that we will be able to scale,” Yetunde says. “We hope to get to a point when we will have community health workers in all communities in Nigeria and we will be able to franchise our services.”

Market Doctors has enabled anyone who visits the market to add healthcare to their shopping list, making healthcare accessible and improving the health of many thousands of Nigerians.

Some people have never even had a medical consultation. When they do, they say ‘you mean with just this little intervention, I can get better?

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PHOTO GALLERY

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