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Our major challenge is eliminating paper – Tito Ovia of Helium Health

Dealing with paper documentation meant that there was always going to be a backlog of data to validate.



Tito Ovia 4, Our major challenge is eliminating paper - Tito Ovia of Helium Health

For a health sector that has, for decades, depended on paper documentation for filing of medical records and history, going digital can well be likened to pouring new wine into an old wineskin.

This is why Tito Ovia, co-founder and head of Public Sector Growth at Helium Health – a healthtech company devoted to digitising Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system – explained that the company’s major challenge has been about eliminating paper in the system.

Some people have lived their years and built their entire careers around the paper documentation. Keeping records and files in cabinets and moving them from one office to the other has been some person’s entire job, so they are of course not disposed to the idea of taking paper out of the entire process,” she explained.

READ: Doctors are free to leave Nigeria, we have more than enough – Chris Ngige

This, she said, is the core of the company’s existence. Being in the 21st century, it is time to move beyond the years where the hospital staff spend precious time looking for a patient’s file and medical records, time that could be the thin line between life and death.

Tito was a guest on Nairametrics’ Business Half Hour programme when she disclosed all these. According to her, she always knew about the deficiencies in Nigeria’s health sector, and pictured herself becoming that medical doctor who would change the health delivery system in the country.

However, when she could not get into medical school after two attempts, she decided to study Bio-Medical sciences at the University of Manchester. While taking the course, she developed interest in public health primarily because it has to do with helping a community of people access better health. This later influenced the start of her career in the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency.

Spotting a challenge

While working with the team to conduct tests and carrying out HIV counselling for patients within Lagos state, Tito observed a documentation problem.

There were just too many papers involved in documentation and it was clear that the system could not be organised. Compiling records and stats for the government using papers had a lot of issues, and there was of course the problem of accuracy of figures,” she explained during the show.

Dealing with paper documentation meant that there was always going to be a backlog of work to do, and data to validate, and in a fast-paced world where time is of essence to saving a life, Tito realised that something had to be done.

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Working hand-in-hand with her friends and partners, Adegoke Olubusi and Dimeji Sofowora, Helium Health was founded in 2016 as an all-encompassing healthcare solution for the Nigerian health sector.

Healthcare solution for all

Heliumhealth has a suite of healthcare solutions that caters to providers of healthcare, and all players in the sector.

There is the EMR (electronic management records) solutions that digitises the entire process so that staff of medical facilities are not running helter-skelter in search of files and paperwork before treating a patient. With a tap of the finger, they can access the patients’ records and medical history.

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Ultimately, Ovia explains, the aim is to have an integrated healthcare delivery system, rather than the fragmented health system which is currently obtainable in Nigeria.

You should be able to work into any hospital without any card, and get treated when they access your records. And then, they could send your prescription digitally to the pharmacy where you simply stop by and pick it without having to take any hand-written prescription,” she stated.

At a time when several reports have claimed that thousands of deaths occur annually from poorly written prescriptions, and some from wrong prescriptions due to lack of access to a patient’s medical history, this is definitely a welcome addition to the health sector system.

Another target of Helium Health is providing data. Year after year, government makes budgetary allocations to the health sector based on speculations instead of valid statistics. Having an integrated real-time record across the country means that the government would be able to get access to real-time information on what is going on in the health sector.

At every point, the government should know if there is any increase in the occurrence of malaria for instance in a particular community, or which community is having more maternal deaths at every time. With this, budgets can be made knowing the right places to channel funds and infrastructure.”

This can hardly be possible when there are still lots of health institutions keeping fragmented records, and traditional nurses and birth attendants whose records rarely get into any central system.

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A special solution for a special market

Unlike many other countries, Nigeria has a market where a significant percentage of the would-be users of the Helium Health application had limited computer literacy. Some have not had cause to use any applications that is more complex than Facebook, and this according to Tito is the reason that previous similar solutions from foreign companies failed.

We decided that we were going to build something that had all the functionalities but is as exciting and simple to use as possible. With our design, anyone that can use WhatsApp or Facebook should be able to use it with little efforts.” 

To compensate for job losses that could result from adopting the technology, Tito explained that Helium Health tries to equip such staff with necessary computer skills so that they can easily fit into the digital century with their digital skills.

Helium Health also makes provision for every challenge that could come up in the course of providing its service to clients.


We spent a year and a half making mistakes and perfecting solutions for that kind of market, so we are providing the solutions, the network, devices, infrastructure, and every kind of challenge or limitation that could come up.”

So where is the money?

The Nigerian market is a very unique and interesting one where solutions have been tailored to the market. Introducing a technology like Helium Health has its challenges especially when it comes to getting businesses to part with their money.

Tito explained in the show that the company uses a flexible model adapting several payment patters to suit its clients.

There is the subscription-based model for the private sector, where the institution has to pay a fixed sum for a patient per year. This practical model saves them from parting with a lump sum immediately but still allows them enjoy the benefits of the platform, only paying for as many patients as they have.  Under this plan, they do not have to renew that subscription fee until the patient shows up the next year.

READ MORE: Robotic Surgery possibility in Nigeria

There are however those institutions that would not want to be bothered with making additional payments every time they have a new patient, and so they opt for a one-time annual license fee which covers all patients (irrespective of the number) throughout the year, until the next year where they have to renew the license fee.

It is a flexible structure where institutions just have to opt for the plans that suit them at the time.


Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Billionaire Watch

TikTok’s 38 year-old founder is worth $35.5 billion – Here’s what we know

At 38 years old, Zhang Yiming is the 39th richest man in the world.



TikTok a video sharing app was named the most downloaded app of the first quarter of 2021 but not much is known about its founder. The app now has over 689 million active users worldwide according to statistics from It has also been downloaded over 2 billion times on App Store and Google Playstore. It is arguably the most popular video-sharing app out there and the numbers keep growing.

TikTok was able to grow at a faster rate than Facebook and Instagram since its startup. The man behind this massive success is currently worth $35.5 billion and he is our person of interest today.

Meet Zhang Yiming, the founder of Bytedance 

38-year-old Zhang Yiming is the CEO and Founder of ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. Zhang Yiming majored in microelectronics and software engineering at Nankai University. He worked for various tech startups including Microsoft before settling to start his own company.

The billionaire leads a very secretive lifestyle. He founded ByteDance back in 2012 and steered it all the way to financial success. He is currently worth $35.5 billion but his net worth is well on its way to doubling based on recent valuations.

ByteDance has two main flagship products – Toutiao, an AI-backed news aggregator and TikTok which he founded later after the success of Toutiao.

Revisiting the success of  TikTok 

Last year Zhang Yiming’s ByteDance was regarded as the most valuable startup in the world. TikTok became the most downloaded iOS app worldwide in the first quarter of 2019, according to the US research app Sensor Tower.

TikTok is available in 155 countries and in 75 languages.

Impressive valuation 

Bytedance’s first major valuation was in 2018 where it was valued at $75bn according to Forbes. This was followed by another valuation which put it at $140bn according to CB Insights.


The latest 2021 valuation places ByteDance at over $250bn according to the South China morning post.

Zhang Yiming owns a quarter of ByteDance and with this recent valuation, his net worth is set to grow to $60bn according to experts in the field.

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Donald Trump scare 

The former president of the United States was on the verge of banning TikTok in the country. He claimed the App has ties to the Chinese government. This would have been a setback giving that the application is quite popular among US millennials and Gen Z. Donald Trump lost his re-election bid and very little has been said by the Biden administration on the issue.

What you should know 

  • At 38 years old, Zhang Yiming is the 39th richest man in the world. His parents were civil servants.
  • The popularity of TikTok in the United States has raised concerns from US regulators.

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FG explains why the loan amount for youth investment fund is limited to N300,000

At N300,000 per beneficiary, only 41,000 beneficiaries would be covered in the first tranche of N12.5bn.



President Buhari to address Nigerians on Lekki toll plaza shootings after investigation , Youth Investment Fund:  Ministry of Finance and CBN to launch provision of funds- Minister, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports launch DEEL initiative

The Federal Government has explained why it limited the loan amount for the current beneficiaries of the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) to N300,000.

The government said that it had to place a limit of N300,000 for individuals and eligible businesses who meet the conditions and guideline in order to ensure that it gets to as many beneficiaries as possible.

This disclosure is contained in a statement signed by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, who noted that the disbursement of the fund is being done in phases.

What the statement from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is saying

The statement explained that the ministry had received more than 3 million applications for the initial N12.5bn made available adding that at the current cap of N300,000 per beneficiary, only about 41,000 beneficiaries could be covered.

The statement from the ministry partly reads, “The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has been following with interest the reaction of some beneficiaries of the NYIF, particularly those expressing disappointment at the N300,000 cap on disbursement under the first tranche of N12.5bn.

Firstly, the framework specified N250,000 as the maximum for individuals and eligible businesses that are critical can access up toN3m subject to meeting key criteria set in the guideline and conditions.

Considering the number of applications received, there was the need to ensure spread and enable more beneficiaries enjoy the facility.”

The ministry assured beneficiaries that higher loan thresholds would be possible once additional funds were available in subsequent phases.

The ministry in the statement also noted that it is ideal to start and gradually increase, considering that there are lots of first-time borrowers as well.

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The ministry reaffirmed that NYIF was not a grant, but a loan, targeted at supporting the youth to start small businesses or to inject funds into existing small businesses.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the Federal Government had on October 15, 2020, launched the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund, which was set up for investment in the innovative ideas, skills, and talents of Nigerian Youth.
  • It is to also institutionally provide the Nigerian youth with a special window for accessing much-needed funds, finances, business management skills, and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise development.
  • The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is the lead implementation entity and is responsible for budgetary provisions and for funds mobilization.

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