To realise an improved healthcare system that will enable increased access to people seeking healthcare services amidst rising costs and inequitable distribution of health workers, the Managing Director, Vodacom Business Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Kolade has said that adoption and proper utilisation of modern technology in the nation’s healthcare delivery will definitely engender efficient and timely services.
Speaking during the Information Communications Technology and Telecommunications (ICTEL) Expo, 2017 organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos recently, Kolade said that Nigeria needs to adopt the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of the solutions towards improving the current healthcare delivery in the country. According to him, with a healthcare budget of N1,688 per person, the adoption of IoT has become pertinent in addressing various healthcare needs of the people. Stressing that it paves way for the optimum use of the available scarce resources in achieving maximum result.
Referring to a recent report by the World Health Organisation’s Global Healthcare Workforce Alliance which highlighted inadequate production and inequitable distribution of health workers as some of the major challenges facing the sector, the Vodacom boss hinted that with the ratio of health workers per 10,000 citizens sitting at 1.95, “this means that citizens seeking healthcare services outstrips the available trained staff and those in need may be far from the nearest hospital or clinic.
“The Internet of Things is a powerful tool for us to successfully address Nigeria’s healthcare challenges. IoT can be used to increase access to healthcare by extending the scope of care services to rural and hard-to-reach areas and ensuring that essential medicines are available where and when they are needed. This technology is powering connected medical services that enable healthcare professionals to diagnose and consult with patients and first responders remotely, no matter where they are.”
Adding that IoT is significant to realising a digital healthcare system in Nigeria, Kolade said, “Technology makes it possible to connect assets of all kinds – everything from heart monitors to chiller cabinets. These assets are equipped with sensors that monitor their environments, and with a network connection, so they can communicate,” he said.
Enumerating on some of the IoT initiatives, the IT company has adopted in healthcare delivery across the country, Kolade said “Vodacom recently partnered with Kaduna State Government to launch a mobile technology-based healthcare programme, SMS for Life 2.0, in the state. It aims to increase the availability of essential medication by monitoring drug stock levels, improving the delivery of healthcare for citizens who access public health services.
“Vodacom is the technology partner for the initiative, which is a public-private partnership with Novartis and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health. Vodacom has concluded the training and deployment of SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna, with over 250 facilities using the platform to date. This initiative is planned to be implemented in all thirty six states,” Kolade said.
Also speaking on how technology has impact its services, the Founder, Flying Doctors Nigeria, Dr. Ola Brown said that through some technological innovations, its services have been made a lot easier with the attendant cut in cost. “With the help of technology, we have changed our practice from using private jet to constructing a structure in a commercial airline to make the service cheaper. For our doctors training, we used to bring in air ambulance doctors from different parts of the world to train our doctors. In getting that done, we have to get their visas, fly them in, accommodate them for the number of days it lasts.
“But we now we just have a webner. We can have five ambulance doctors from all over the world lecturing our doctors. We just put up a screen. No visa, no ticket, no accommodation and they are speaking from America, UK. So, from training to the actual point of service delivery, technology has really changed what we do.
In his goodwill message, the Minister of Science and Technology, Barrister Abdul-Raheem Shittu hinted that the Federal Government appreciates the influence and impact of technology in virtually every human endeavour and the FG has taken several proactive steps in response to that. Shittu who noted that, “we are in technology-driven world”, said that the success of any venture in present times without technology is doubtful. “The ICT has become a catalyst for success in virtually all sectors of our economy and even in our socio-political landscape, Adebayo said.