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Ajakaye••• On global mission to solve skin health challenges

By John Akubo, Abuja
29 August 2021   |   3:41 am
Dolapo Audrey Ajakaye is a 17-year-old Nigerian-American who is on a mission to empower adolescents globally with her LoveMySkin™ campaign. Her struggles with skin health and insecurities from a young age naturally helped birth the initiative to contribute to the global health space.

Ajakaye explaining a point during one of her health campaigns in a Lagos community… recently

Dolapo Audrey Ajakaye is a 17-year-old Nigerian-American who is on a mission to empower adolescents globally with her LoveMySkin™ campaign. Her struggles with skin health and insecurities from a young age naturally helped birth the initiative to contribute to the global health space.

Today, her vision is to lay the groundwork for this generation to become more aware of skin-related issues. And her campaign global as a health advocate seeks to reduce skin health inequities prevalent in many communities across the globe.

Ajakaye recently completed a successful skin health campaign, reaching 250 adolescent girls and boys (aged between 10 and 17 years old) residing in underserved communities of Oke Ira Nla, Badore, Ajah, Jakande, and Makoko/Sogunro in Lagos, Nigeria.

LoveMySkin™ Skin Education Outreach
AJAKAYE started the LoveMySkin™ Company in 2020 to support individuals worldwide suffering from skin-related conditions and insecurities. With the LoveMySkin™ platform, she intends to ease global skin health disparities by giving voice to everyone suffering from skin conditions and insecurities to engage in an enlightening and inclusive discussion with others going through the same as well as with healthcare experts. 

Due to the unsanitary conditions common to underserved communities globally and limited access to healthcare facilities and treatment options, Ajakaye believes that early skincare education for children goes a long way in preventing the occurrence/recurrence of skin conditions. Therefore, she wants to continue to partner with organisations, institutions, and countries to educate people on how to take care of their skin to proactively reduce the health hazards in underserved communities across the globe.

She is of the belief that her skin health message would be tailor-fit for the adolescents at the Lagos outreach. “The earlier you can spread skin health awareness, the better the outcome you achieve,” she said. She added that returning to her ancestral country of origin, Nigeria, to deliver the skin education campaign touched her in more ways than she could have ever imagined. It allowed her to connect with adolescents like herself in a part of the country that she had never experienced in her yearly journeys to Nigeria and never even knew existed, just 20 minutes from where she stayed during her visit.

Global Health Sustainability For Adolescents
AJAKAYE has always been passionate about the intersection between global health related to skin conditions, mental wellbeing, and how to leverage digital technology to reach thousands of communities. “I have become more determined than ever to see how I can bring digital health innovations to communities like this. This campaign event truly embodied that goal as over 250 children got to access the LoveMySkin™ App. I plan to continue these events leveraging physical and virtual visits to many countries around the world,“ said Ajakaye.

Accomplishing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 3.8
ACHIEVING Universal Health Coverage means providing access to quality essential healthcare services to all. According to UNICEF data, there are presently 1.2 billion adolescents between the ages of 10 to 19 worldwide, making up 16% of the world’s population. Additionally, Sub-Sahara Africa is the region where adolescents make up the greatest portion of the population, with 23% of the region’s population aged 10-19. Thus, keeping our youths in Sub-Sahara Africa healthy allows them to flourish both now and in adulthood to contribute positively to society.

As such, Ajakaye said that adolescence is a crucial developmental stage in which they must take the time to acquire the knowledge and skills in various areas such as emotional, social, and physical to be successful. “We must provide adolescents with a supportive environment that helps them stay healthy and empowered.”

Skin Health, Wellbeing Powered By Artificial Intelligence 
IN 2020, Ajakaye launched her global health campaign, initially focusing on building her LoveMySkin™ company and developing her LoveMySkin™ app. The app launched on the Apple app store and Google Play store in June 2021. During the campaign event, Ajakaye shared Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology with the attendees through her app. The children were excited to take pictures of their skin concerns and receive results pointing to common skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and ringworm in under 60 seconds, with the pictures disappearing with one click of a button. The children could not be happier to use the LoveMySkin™ app! 

Improve Skincare Access To Communities Through Partners
AJAKAYE partnered with Linking Hands Foundation (LHF). A healthcare educator, Ms. Testimony Adeyeye from an LHF partner NGO, The Neo Child Initiative (TNCI) Africa, also provided healthcare information to the children on how to follow up locally on treatment options for their skin conditions.

Ajakaye has started hosting targeted campaigns on skin education and is actively working to unlock opportunities for adolescent girls and boys to gain access to essential skincare products, skin health facilities, and skin health professionals to improve their skin health outcomes and overall skin wellbeing. The LoveMySkin™ education programme entitled, ‘A Global Look at Why Skin Health Matters,’ allows adolescents to free themselves of any stigma and discrimination that they may face as a direct result of their skin colour and condition. The core message of “I Love My Skin” echoed through during the campaign as the attendees affirmed it to themselves over and over again. 

Ajakaye stated that some of the heartwarming highlights of the event were the feedback she received from the attendees, community, and partners. Additionally, Ajakaye, a member of The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), received complete support to take over the UNA-USA Youth Instagram page for a whole day to share LoveMySkin™ campaign with over a thousand UN-USA followers. 

Commenting on the event, LHF’s Otodogbame Community contact and owner of Topgoodness Schools, Mr. Sunday James Zanmenu said, “Today was another intriguing, captivating and mind blowing day for the Otodogbame children. The programme was the talk of the town, it’s like magic; the exposure the children got today. I am thankful for the privilege given to the children to learn new things. It has made an indelible mark in my life and those of the children. Our profound and heartfelt gratitude goes to Dolapo for a job well done. God bless Linking Hands Foundation (LHF) and LoveMySkin™.” 
On her part, founder, Linking Hands Foundation (LHF), Mrs. Efe Farinre said, “It is always an honour for LHF to serve with tomorrow’s leaders, today. What Dolapo has done with LoveMySkin™ is ground-breaking and we are glad to support her work, as it aligns with our mission to make positive and lasting impacts on humanity and society. 

“Dolapo has created a platform, backed by technology, that provides solutions to problems she has faced and is still being faced by so many people across the globe everyday. “This is how we make our world better! This campaign comes at a perfect time, as it is our second outing under LHF’s recently created Head, Heart & Hands (H3) Initiative. “LHF’s H3 Initiative provides support to projects and programmes created by youths to give of themselves to humanity and the world, from their skills and abilities (Head), passion (Heart) and works (Hands). LoveMySkin™ by Dolapo Ajakaye is a unique global health campaign that is very much needed, and highly commendable.” 

At the end of the day, an elated Ajakaye said she was extremely grateful for the opportunity to share with the communities in Lagos. “I appreciate the warm welcome by the Baale of Oke Ira Nla, our host community and the children’s readiness to learn, and contribute to the skin healthcare discussions. Seeing the attendees dance with delight after receiving the skin education and the distributed skincare products was inspiring! Happiness is a choice, no matter what your economic situation in life is. I am truly inspired by the children in the communities. This campaign has been a life-changing experience for me that I will forever cherish; I look forward to my next LoveMySkin™ campaign,” she said.