Nigeria’s Telehealth pathfinder, Pre Diagnosis International (PDI), has called on public healthcare managers and organisations, who wish to contribute to the urgent task of reviving the country’s dilapidated health infrastructure, to embrace modern tele-healthcare model as against the old practice of building public health facilities that are often left to rot away due to poor use.
Reacting to the recently announced plan by the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) to build new PHCs across the 774 LGAs of the country, PDI’s Managing Director, Dr. John Iguve, said the ability of the plan to help the country deliver efficient healthcare services to the vulnerable especially in rural areas that need help most reside is very weak.
PSHAN recently announced that under its Adopt-a-Health-Facility Programme (ADHFP), it had designed a plan that entails delivering one PHC in each of Nigeria’s 774 LGAs at global standards.
The MD noted in a press release issued: “It also said that the ADHFP will be sponsored by a group of Angel Investors and other institutions who will each take responsibility for one or more PHCs on a Build, Operate and Transfer terms for the period of adoption under strict rules and guidelines.”
While lauding PSHAN for coming out to help, Iguve said the focus of building PHCs, in the light of the country’s experience, could not offer an innovative solution to the existing challenges of providing efficient healthcare services, especially in rural, hard-to-reach areas.
According to him, modern day public healthcare is efficient only when health services can reach the hard to reach areas, when location – economic and social status – do not dictate access to quality health services, when they have equal access to basic healthcare services and only when all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services they need in sufficient quantity without exposing them to financial hardship as declared by WHO.
Continuing, he submitted that the objective could only be achieved when public health promoters and managers see the end result of their interventions in terms of how the system is innovated to become simple, strong, fast and reliable enough to reach, rescue and help fortify the personal health of millions of vulnerable Nigerians.
The PDI boss, however, noted that the country’s dwindling economic fortunes which impact availability of funds for developmental efforts dictates that the best model the country needs to embrace is one that can deliver quality healthcare services to the remotest, undeserved villages across the length and breadth of Nigeria by leveraging technology to maximise the scarce human and operational resources for health through effective and efficient deployment.
He declared: “Nigeria is in a race against time due to various global forecasts on the exponential nature of the country’s population growth as the country’s population is expected to hit the half a billion mark in the next thirty years.”
For Pre Diagnosis, the MD said they have achieved remarkable progress in their burning desire to harness modern technology to effectively distribute quality total healthcare to two million vulnerable Nigerians annually, in a cost-effective way that maximises the scarce human resources.
“At the centre of this breakthrough is an ultra-modern technological platform known as the PDI TeleHealth HUB that was designed to provide a holistic solution to the identified gaps in the country’s healthcare space, particularly in the undeserved areas,” he said.
The PDI boss further highlighted that the PDI TeleHealth platform is a community health hub in the form of a solar-powered mobile clinic that can be placed anywhere and manned by a specially trained staff recruited from the host community.
The hub, he continued, is connected to the expansive PDI telehealth central control room where doctors are available 24/7 to micromanage these hubs. “The result is delivery of continuous medical services on the ground within a community (remotely) by our medical doctors, leveraging technology”.
Iguve also stated that PDI has harnessed technology to develop an app that allows individuals to consult and receive wholesale treatment for many minor and major health challenges from doctors via the cellphone without physically visiting the hospital.
“At the micro level of revolutionising public health delivery in Nigeria, we have developed the PDI App for download by android phone users. It is an interactive mobile application that gives users immediate access to highly trained and experienced doctors who can assist them access quality healthcare from anywhere in the world, whether from home, office, on a business trip or vacation.
“Among other things, the PDI App user can obtain and store latest blood pressure reading, heart health vitals, blood sugar information, as well as other vital statistics required to comprehensively evaluate the state of their health status. Also, the doctor may order an investigation, give a prescription or counselling or initiate a referral to a secondary center via the interaction.”
Speaking, he said the good thing about the App is that it is developed for the poor and vulnerable members of the society and therefore very cheap to access by all.
While lauding initiatives that could harness crowd funding for development of the country’s public healthcare system, Iguve cautioned that such pooled funds should be judiciously deployed to deliver medical services to the most vulnerable in the society, most effectively and efficiently to achieve the best health outcomes through the provision of sustainable, affordable healthcare services all year round.
The MD, however, averred that Tele-healthcare, which is a growing ark of Telemedicine, has become a cheaper alternative for most countries that desire a radical solution to their public healthcare delivery challenges. This is the direction in which Nigeria must move.”