Ediale Kingsley interviewed this amazing woman. Dr Popoola Margaret Owoloyi talks about her amazing projects and her inspiration for doing all she does. This Author, Medical Doctor, and humanist is doing a lot to help the human race get better.
What influenced your decision to be an author?
I would say three factors.
The first would be my secondary school, St. Anne’s Secondary School, Otukpo in Benue State where I was first introduced to the world of books.
I read voraciously all our literature books both those for my class and those for classes above mine.
I also read most of the great books in our school library in addition to the regular mills and boons, Barbara Cartlands etc which we purchase and hide to read so it was no surprise when in my form 3 ( presently known as JSS 3), I wrote my first novel. It contained 12 chapters but I never got to publish it.
The second factor would be that writing may be in my genes. I come from a family of writers. My Dad of blessed memory, Alexander Ameh(KSM,JP) wrote many wonderful faith based books in his life time that blessed the lives of many.
My younger brother, Dr. Elaigwu P. Ameh from Cornel university in the USA, is an award winning writer of plays. One sister writes for people on upwork, another sister, a lawyer, has written a great book about trafficking in persons and yet another has written a faith based book.
It will interest you to know that presently, three of my children have penned down some interesting stories and I’m considering publishing for them.
The third would be the man who gave me the final push to make my writing dream a reality. He was my printer. His name is Mr. Ogbodu. He heard me talk ever so frequently about the books I wanted to write and the ones I had written which were in various stages of incompletion so one day he told me to make great effort to publish otherwise, these stories that God has laid on my heart to write, if I fail to publish, he will lay it on other hearts and one day, I would wake up and find that my stories have been written and published but not by me. It galvanised me into action and luckily for me, I was doing my Masters in public health then, and the knowledge gather during that course gave me the much needed push to accomplish that dream.
What inspired you to write the book ‘Naira Boss’?
Naira Boss is my 6th book.
It was written from a place of pain.
I had lost some huge amount of money, a very hefty investment that nearly ‘crippled’ me. It was my lowest moment and only my faith and the hope of Christ in me held me up, kept me and empowered me to refuse considering a negative way out. (Suicide is never an option).
So while down, instead of cowardly giving up, I sought solution and read widely and tried to implement cautiously in order to pull myself out of the abyss.
Most of the knowledge gained during that period shaped and transformed my mindset and money habits so I decided to put down some of them to help others.
I felt that no one should fail again where I have failed. Anyone armed with the principles in Naira Boss can not fail like I did. Naira Boss is written to empower. It acts as a stepping stone and gives you leverage to your destination.
I started out writing it under the working title ‘Master Your Money’ but at the close of the book I was inspired to name it NAIRA BOSS because by the time you get a good grasp of the 10 principles that will help you master your money, you would have no choice than to be a boss of the subject matter – a Naira Boss.
How well has your book been received?
Read More About The Doctor Below
The story of a medical doctor impacting her world in and out of the hospital
“Medicine has had its highs and its lows, but no matter the difficulties I have faced, there has never been a moment of doubt that I’m in the profession for me”
Dr. Popoola Margaret Owoloyi MBBS, MPH
Orthopedic work for me personally is amazing.
You gain instant gratification from your job because right on the operating table, as you fix a broken limb, you are seeing the result.
It’s a marvel to see the works of your hands take shape beautifully.
When someone comes to you with a joint that is destroyed, right there on the operating table, you’re able to replace that joint, see that it is normal again, and in a few weeks, the person can go back to pre-disease condition, back to normal.
Doctors in other fields of medicine frequently have to deal with loss of patients, however the mortality rate in patients with orthopedic conditions is quite low.
As a woman, when people find out you are in the orthopedic field, they pity you; It is a male-dominated field that requires a lot of heavy lifting and as such there is that pressure to prove your mettle…that you can do the job too.
When I think about how my journey into medicine started, I remember Mrs. Regis, my biology teacher in secondary school, she gets the credit for the trigger for this journey.
When she was preparing us for our finals, she motivated and inspired us a great deal.
She told us her own story of how she came to teach biology; her initial plan was to become a dentist but the first day she went to a clinic, she saw a set of dentitions that made her rethink the decision and change her mind.
She gave us reasons why we should aspire to greatness and encouraged us to study human medicine.
From this time, I made up my mind to become a medical doctor.
After attempting JAMB for the first time, incidentally I was offered admission to study dentistry at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Zoology at the University of Jos but for obvious reasons, I declined both offers.
At this point, my dad had to ask me what I really wanted to be in life, and I told him I wanted to become a medical doctor, because I wanted to impact lives.
He encouraged me to work harder to make my dreams a reality.
He encouraged me to study harder and give my best because obviously my best at the first attempt at university seemingly wasn’t good enough to get me my desired course.
He then got me the form to do remedial study (SGRS) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and I was not happy with it.
I said to him “it’s only failures that go for remedial study”, he insisted regardless.
Starting the program, I found out that a good number of the people that came for the remedial studies were some of the best students from their various schools, and like me, many of them were pursuing dreams that they were unwilling to give up on.
Let’s just say “Remedial humbled me”.
I realized early that it would not be a walk over because it was in a way a gathering of “champions” from various schools who suddenly realized that the next person was actually as good as they were academically, if not better.
It was clear to me that I would have to work extra hard to stay at the top, and so for the whole year, I put in my best effort.
When it was time for JAMB again, even while still doing my remedial, I registered for JAMB, and medicine was the only course I filled in for.
By the end of the year, I passed both JAMB and the remedial studies and got two separate offers to study medicine. The hard work paid off.
In medical school, I was greatly inspired by one of my teachers, late Prof. Marliyya Zayyan, and just like her, I thought of the possibility of becoming a gynecologist.
That was for a brief period as I was soon relishing the thoughts of becoming a Neurosurgeon because of the inspirational influence of another of my teachers, Prof. B.B Shehu or even a plastic surgeon because of the dexterity and meticulous work of Prof. Malachi Asuku.
It is important for me to mention these individuals because they in some way shaped my path.
Though my interests fluctuated for a bit across various subspecialities, I knew for a fact that I wanted to become a surgeon.
The decision to pitch my tent in orthopedic surgery however was one my husband has sole credit for.
He was very instrumental in getting me into that subspeciality. He sought admission for me, and encouraged me to give orthopedic surgery a try.
I came in with some trepidation but to my utmost surprise I fell completely in love with Orthopedics and I’ve not looked back since then in spite of the many hurdles I’ve had to face….and surmount.
After my graduation from medical school, I did my housemanship in Kaduna State metropolis in the 44 Nigerian military hospital and then I served with the Nigerian police at the Police clinic at the Force Headquarters in Jos, Plateau state for my NYSC.
I loved Jos and would have loved to settle down there but my fiancé was also serving (NYSC) in Gusau, Zamfara state, and he told me that if I wanted to marry him, I would have to move.
I had no choice, I had to let love win.
After spending six years in Gusau, I moved to Zaria with my husband, where I am now an Orthopedic Surgeon in training.
In this field, just like other fields, there are some peculiar challenges.
For instance, there are patients that come in scared, wanting to know if the condition they have is life-threatening.
Once we give our diagnosis, and the condition is not life-threatening, or we stabilize them, they will choose instead to go to a traditional bone setter to get treated.
Traditional bone setters are people who believe they inherited the skills to treat broken bones. When it comes to fracture treatments, they can treat some basic ones, however, there are some complicated fractures they cannot do anything about.
The issue is that, when they come across these complicated fractures, they believe they can treat them as well and when they start, they end up making it worse.
When a bone is set, it will heal in the position that it has been set.
This means that if it is set wrongly, it will heal wrongly, and this is the trouble we face with the traditional bone setters.
They know nothing about the biology of fracture healing. They lack the right tools and expertise to properly align the bones.
These and many more make the bones mal-unite. Sometimes in the process of trying to immobilize the limb, they use traditional splints and they make these splints so tight that it cuts off the blood supply to the limb.
Once the blood supply is cut off, gangrene of that limb eventually sets in.
Most often, by the time such a patient is eventually brought to us, we usually have no choice but to amputate in order to preserve life.
This is a problem all over Nigeria and this is one of the problems that my organization C-HELP, Centre for Health Education and Life Promotion, is trying to address.
We conduct awareness campaigns so that people will be aware of the menace of accessing treatment from the traditional bone setters.
Most of the time, you find that a lot of the troubles we find ourselves in, in Nigeria, stems from lack of the right information.
Public enlightenment really helps.
We try to help them realize that it’s always best to come to the hospital to be attended to by an orthopaedic surgeon.
We are also trying to go into the community to identify the traditional bone setters and document those of them that can treat some basic fractures.
We want to support them so they know how to handle it safely enough to avoid complications. Of great importance is the fact that we want to help them to know their limits, and let them know that they should send the cases beyond their limits to the hospital.
The traditional bone setters are like authority figures in the community. When they tell the people that they will not touch their fractured bones and that they should go to the hospital, those people will listen to them.
Any opportunity we get to enlighten the populace about any medical condition, we always seize the opportunity and make judicious use of it.
C-HELP started as Walking on Waters International in 2008, in Gusau, Zamfara state.
I had this strong desire to run free clinics for indigent people, so I discussed this idea with my husband, and he said it was a good idea.
We talked to a number of our colleagues, and we worked hand-in-hand with the Catholic Holy Name fellowship and the OLF Parish in Gusau.
From there, we put together a platform where we did health talks, talking about cancer, hypertension, and HIV.
We made pamphlets about these conditions and distributed them. We then ran a free clinic where all the tests performed and all the drugs given were free.
Some associations and pharmaceutical companies pitched in, and it was well received in the community.
We ran the program again in 2009, but in 2010 we had to leave Gusau for Zaria.
Because I had to settle down and understand my new terrain, we didn’t do anything for a while.
But in 2016, that urge to do something for the community; to impact our community came back, and we started again.
This time, we ran it under the name C-HELP.
We wanted a name that would show forth or encompass everything that we wanted to do.
For instance, the talks and enlightenment campaigns fall under health education while the free clinics fall under life promotion.
As we got led to branch into other things, we always found a way to compartmentalize those things into the two broad arms of health education and life promotion.
We have three core areas we work in; education, empowerment, and health.
We do a lot of health talks where we educate people about cancer, topical diseases, hypertension, and other health conditions generally.
We also have what we call the Irawo book club for children aged 2-18. We try to inculcate in them the love for reading.
We started by reading stories to them, then we introduced novels like Oliver Twist and Animal farm.
We also normally go on educational excursions on independence and children’s day, and we are soon to start a science quiz club.
We also have a journal called Journal of Medical and Basic Scientific Research (JMBSR).
We have published 3 editions, and the fourth edition is in the pipeline. The maiden edition was all free, while the second and third editions were paid for.
The journal has received a very good embrace from the medical community.
They publish in it and the universities accept and recognize it, which means that gradually we are taking our place in society.
We also have a basic life support program called RescueNAIJA.
We try to do a training that takes into consideration the peculiarity of our society.
We want every Nigerian to know what to do at every given time when someone is in danger; when someone has suffered a cardiac arrest for example.
Since we started C-HELP in 2016, we’ve carried out the Annual Cancer Awareness Road Walk/Campaign yearly and we have not stopped.
The vision has grown to include an Annual Health Summit which is now in its 4th season with a target of reversing medical tourism or domiciling it in Nigeria.
A new segment called Heroes of Health Awards, geared towards recognizing and appreciating the value many unsung heroes of health bring to the table was added during the last summit that took place in October 2021 which had the commissioner of health, Kaduna State and other notable personalities in attendance.
It is hoped that this will curb the menace of brain drain in some way, going forward.
The vision of C-HELP keeps growing and in the front burner presently are three projects capable of impacting our world positively; The Reverse Medical Tourism Show/Directory that seeks to document health facilities providing cutting edges services of international standards, navigating the patients by connecting them to the appropriate health facilities in Nigeria for their specific health needs thereby curbing medical tourism and the PinkFUND for the treatment support of female cancer patients.
Bringing up the rear, in its incubation phase, is our green limb project, dubbed ‘Walking On Waters’ where we seek to produce affordable prosthetic limbs from recycled plastic wastes.
Medicine has had its highs and its lows, but no matter the difficulties I have faced, there has never been a moment of doubt that I’m in the profession for me, impacting my world in and out of the hospital.
To learn more about the work we do, reach us on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also reach us through our various social media handles FB, Instagram, LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Dr. Popoola Margaret Owoloyi is married to Dr. Popoola Olayinka Benjamin and together, they have 5 lovely kids.
She aspires to do exploits for God even in the world of medicine side by side with her wonderful husband.
She has authored some medical, faith based and financial books most prominent amongst them which are; Every Pregnant Woman (with Hausa translation), Daughter of Zion and Naira Boss.
She loves to sing and has a number of songs to her credit – Read Nigeria, Book-worm, Dr. Jesus and Our Lady of Aokpe.
Her mantra is “To Die Empty”.