Can food be the ultimate drug?
Published on 14 July 2023
While taking a holiday from her busy role at Spectrum Geo Ltd in London, Tamara Egbedi visited Nigeria, not realising how she was going to change millions of people’s lives across Africa.
Petroleum Law and Policy graduate Tamara was approached by a pregnant woman and asked for money while on holiday in Lagos in 2016. Tamara was much more concerned about her welfare and instead of giving her money, she took the young woman to hospital for an antenatal check, something that the woman had never had before. Tamara and the pregnant woman were told that the child was likely to die of malnourishment.
“I asked if this was normal and if I could help. The doctor took me to a primary health centre in Lagos, where those who can’t afford healthcare go. I was told that out of ten babies, five babies die at birth, three die after three months and two survive but are malnourished. Added to this, the mothers are malnourished and can’t breastfeed,” Tamara explained.
“This was something I was really passionate about and I wanted to help. I spoke with my husband about creating a local product that would help pregnant mothers and weaning babies in the first instance. I had many conversations with doctors in France who were experts in malnutrition in Africa. My idea was to create a local product that mothers and babies would use to get the required micronutrients and stop malnutrition and ultimately stop infant mortality. I asked myself, can food be the ultimate drug?”
After two years of getting the formula and the taste right, her product, Tom Brown PLUS was launched.
Once the product was certified, it was given to 150 mothers and children through health centres in Lagos State. Within one month, every malnourished infant was better and the weight of pregnant women increased. Soon Tamara was supplying her product to 230 primary health centres in Lagos.
The product and its effect on malnutrition came to the attention of the federal government under its National School Feeding Programme, and Tom Brown PLUS was added to the menu and fed to over 250,000 primary school pupils every month in Plateau State, Nigeria.
The social impact of the business includes a partnership with over 120 small scale farmers who provide 100% natural ingredients, and the creation of jobs, with 70% carried out by women. Healthcare, a creche and daily meals are also offered to staff.
Tom Brown PLUS has also helped reduce infant mortality by 95% and achieved 100% success in combating malnutrition in children less than five years old at primary health centres in Lagos.
Today, PachaMama Foods, Tamara’s company, aims to achieve four key Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-Being, and Decent Work and Economic Growth. As a result, it has expanded to include other products to improve the health of people of all ages, particularly against non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol, using Africa’s superfoods.
On her time in Dundee, Tamara said that her university experience helped her to develop PachaMama Foods. “I was encouraged at Dundee to network and collaborate and that has certainly helped me launch and develop PachaMama Foods. Pachamama means mother nature and I wanted all products to be natural, especially with today’s unhealthy eating habits. I also wanted to break the myth that healthy food is expensive.”
Tamara has certainly achieved her goal and developed healthy and affordable food products for millions of people across Africa.
- PachaMama Foods is an agri-business dedicated to the production and sales of quality natural, healthy, tasty and affordable plant-based products while providing solutions to nutritional problems such as malnutrition.
- Tom Brown PLUS is a blend of three grains and two legumes, developed by nutritionists and chefs to deliver a unique nutritious and affordable all-in-one breakfast porridge.
- Tamara’s product is feeding over one million pregnant women and children every month across Nigeria with proven social impact to Nigeria and its citizens.