When a 16-year-old Brett Lyndall Singh from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, was unable to perform CPR on his sick grandmother, he used this traumatic experience as his calling to become a doctor.
“It kind of cemented the idea of me making sure that I have the skills to be able to save people’s lives,” Singh tells FORBES AFRICA.
The congenial doctor has a spring in his step when we meet him, as he speaks about his journey around the world in medicine and health.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t study in South Africa due to a lack of space [in medical school],” Singh explains. “And I took a leap of faith and applied to universities around the world and got a great offer from China. And so, I moved to China when I was 17 going [on] 18 back in 2011. I then studied at Wenzhou Medical University for my bachelor of medicine and surgery. I was then able to do some internships and electives at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia.”
When Covid-19 became a vast and ugly reality across the globe, Singh spent days in Covid wards in China, and says was even invited by President Xi Jinping and the Communist party to go to Beijing to volunteer during the pandemic as one of two African doctors.
Singh is now also involved in South Africa’s national response to Covid-19 and is also currently the chairperson of the Global Value Chains working group of the Department of Trade and Industry Cooperation’s national healthcare master plan.
“My job is to unlock the strategy and investment and opportunities around ‘made in South Africa’ medical devices and healthcare products. So, as a doctor, getting involved in research and development and in the healthcare business started with my thesis in combatting sub-Saharan Africa’s malnutrition…
“I am helping to create a device that could make a doctor’s life better, and could also contribute to stimulating the economy of South Africa and Africa… And I’m trying to be the bridge to help technology transfer like what we did in our project for rapid antigen, as well as component manufacturing, so that we can stimulate the economy, do more research and development and go forward.”
When Covid-19 first broke in 2020, whilst with Plame Biotech, Singh’s company Alpha and Omega MedTech contributed to medical advancements in coronavirus diagnostics by way of the KOVIFAST Rapid Antigen Test, which compared to a PCR Test, only needing 15 minutes to identify a test, rather than six to 18 hours.
Alpha and Omega MedTech was soon approved by CDC Africa’s Africa Medical Supplies Platform as an official supplier of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Medical Devices. Singh’s company has one of the youngest founding teams to hold a South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) license. His work on diagnostics, and its pairing with digital healthcare in epidemiological tracking was presented at the First International Conference on Public Health in Africa hosted by CDC Africa.
Words and Curation: Chanel Retief
Art Director: Lucy Nkosi
Additional Research & Reporting: Lillian Roberts
Photography: Ilan Godfrey for Forbes
Videography and production: Timothy Pierson for Forbes & Chad McClymonds for Forbes
Video Editor: Chanel Retief
Styling: Katlego Magano of Oak Ave; Assistant: Tumelo Nkwe
Hair & Makeup: SnehhOnline Beauty; Thapelo Letsebe
Location: Image Lounge, Botswana and 2022 Forbes Under 30 Summit