By Christy Anyanwu
Dr. Tobi Ayodele-Keeney is the managing director of Quincy Wellness and Naturopathic Centre. Having been under her mother’s tutelage after her studies abroad, she took over the management of the centre.
She looks forward to expanding Quincy’s Wellness’s model of integrative healthcare and replicating the model, especially as it now boasts of a standard laboratory, rapid diagnostic tests and results, as well as other medical and laboratory services.
In this chat with Daily Sun recently, Dr. Tobi Ayodele-Keeney spoke about the challenge of finding a balance in standardizing traditional medicine, practicing it in a scientific, modern way as well as the need for more research and development for African traditional medicine.
She noted that, from the post-COVID-19 pandemic experience, Nigerians are proudly going back to their roots in healthcare delivery ad services.
What has the experience been like, having worked with your mother for some time now?
It has been a great experience, especially with the wealth of knowledge gained through apprenticeship with Dr. (Mrs.) Quincy Ayodele. I do not call her mother in this context due to professionalism at work. Especially, as women, we must wear many hats, depending on which situation we find ourselves in. We have both evolved in our work with each other and in keeping with the challenging health situations of our ever-changing environment. Luckily for her, I am a very patient person and, luckily for me, she is extremely flexible.
What are some of the high points for you in this job?
I would say that opening our integrative clinic and laboratory in Ikoyi in the middle of the COVID pandemic was a great accomplishment for me and my company. Besides that, other memorable moments include seeing our products on Amazon.com and getting great reviews from all races of people purchasing our products from different parts of the world. Prior to our formulating some of the products several years ago, we didn’t imagine they would reach such heights. The best part is our selling point, which is authentically made in Nigeria. Finally, finding a global marketplace that gave us the platform to list a Nigerian brand without fear of people thinking whether it is fake or original is another major hit.
What about some of the difficult times you have seen on this job?
The current global pandemic has been a major challenge as the virus has affected all strata of the society and in many other ways. It made things and processes harder and more stressful for good reasons. A second challenge includes the need to educate the public on the importance of going back to our roots in terms of traditional medicine as a means of achieving better health. It has been challenging having to change the mindset of our people to begin to develop a sense of pride and trust in our identity in general, which extends down to our healthcare.
Nigerians have forgotten or have been trained (brainwashed) against understanding the infinite benefits of medicinal plants for treating a lot of diseases, which currently plague us.
We have rejected our food, herbs, cultural beliefs and value systems. Our pride has replaced it with diets, beliefs and ideologies that are foreign to our spirit, soul and bodies and it is reflecting in our health and wellness. Chronic illnesses once seen as foreign, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, fibroids and even auto-immune diseases, have become residents and even pestilent in our country.
Another challenge is finding a balance in standardizing traditional medicine and practicing it in a scientific, modern way. There needs to be more research and development for African traditional medicine. It still amazes me the kinds of medicinal plants and remedies out there and the vast number of conditions just one plant can treat. So, a single plant can have 20 or more alkaloids.
An alkaloid is pretty much an active ingredient. Each active ingredient can have its own unique medicinal properties. For that reason, a single plant or root or leaf can treat a variety of conditions, depending on the dosage and mode of extraction and preparation. Hence, the need for more research and developing on these indigenous medicinal plants to explored.
What drives your passion on this journey into wellness?
I have always loved the idea of solving the problem of inaccessibility, ineffectiveness and poorly managed healthcare of the Nigerian populace. I feel fulfilled seeing my patients ‘graduate’ from a state of constant sickness to a state of constant, conscious and intentional wellness and health. That graduate becomes a micro or even major healthy living influencer and begins to also transform the health of others around him or her. That is what drives me.
How did COVID-19 affect your business?
It was a blessing in disguise. It made us expand our minds and look outside the box in terms of business model, customer service, services offered and more. COVID-19 was part of the reason we decided to expand to a fully integrative and wellness clinic, complete with a laboratory. I thank God for clearing our eyes in the middle of the storm to become solution providers for major health problems.
You may have had some difficult times in life. What would you consider as the turning point in your career?
It was when I fell gravely ill from complications of having my kids through caesarian section, and western medicine failed me by telling me to go home and die. My intestines and abdominal organs were all fused together, and I could not digest solid food. I went back to traditional medicine and nutritional medicine. Not only did I escape death, I discovered true wellness and achieved more than I did before I fell ill.
That was the turning point in my career. I realized the need to switch to integrative medicine, the true meaning of eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, both physically and emotionally. That illness totally changed my worldview and attitude towards life in general. I feel that no one must go through the stress of fibroids, infertility, pain or whatever it is I had to go through. If I know the key to avoiding or reversing those issues, then everyone should be given the opportunity to know as well.
Was there any point at which you felt like quitting?
I do not believe in quitting. I always find ways to pull through challenging situations, especially with the situation of the country now. I am a patient person and know that nothing good and lasting comes easy.
What are you looking forward to in the next few years?
I look forward to expanding Quincy’s Wellness’s model of integrative approach to health and replicating this model all over Nigeria and beyond. We have a standard laboratory on site with rapid diagnostic test results, a healing spa, home care medical and laboratory services.
Our expertise is in reversing chronic diseases and obesity. We are also experts in skincare and specialize in bringing out a more vibrant and youthful version of yourself. We are basically a one-stop shop for all your health and wellness needs.
Your mother has been in this health sub-sector for a while. Can you tell us the people who influenced you?
I would say I admire my parents a lot. I admire their simple way of life, humour, work ethic and the way they raised us. They were not strict parents per se, but did an awesome job in guiding us through our lives. Additionally, they gave us a lot of guided independence, which I feel made us more responsible to ourselves.
They were also inspired by my dad’s mother and my mother’s dad who also inspired my siblings and I. Those people were the most caring, generous and truly genuine people I knew.
What advice do you have for young people who want to come into the sector?
My first advice is, if you do not have a passion for treating people despite all (meaning you don’t mind giving your arm to make sure a patient gets well), then do not go into the sector in the first place.
In traditional medicine, especially, you find yourself having to treat many people for free just so their lives are saved. Secondly, if you do have a passion for this sector, then make sure you get the right education and apprenticeship. Always have it at the back of your mind that you are a problem-solver and keep finding ways to take initiatives and make a difference. This sector is for forward thinkers, not a place to cash in on or take advantage of vulnerable people.