By Chioma Obinna
Experts have proposed innovation in use of mobile technology as the key to unlocking quality healthcare for all Nigerians, particularly women.
Speaking at the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, HFN, conference on Digital Technology for Healthcare at the Medic West Africa Exhibition in Lagos, which sponsored by PharmAccess Foundation,President of HFN, Mrs. Clare Omatseye maintained that leveraging on mobile technology would take Nigeria and Africa at large to where every citizen will have access to quality healthcare.
Omatseye observed that, if stakeholders in healthcare understood the opportunities of the mobile phone, patients would be more empowered to disrupt the cycle of poverty as well as gain access to quality health.
“With Mobile Health (M-Health), patients can pay for their health and access information and then use the information when needed.
Unfortunately, most of us are paying out -of -pocket and every day, they get more impoverished and remain in the cycle of poverty. It will enable them check their blood pressure, sugar levels and other checks and keep them out of hospital through preventive approach. For pregnant women, it tells them when they are due for another antenatal, results and when the drugs are ready.”
Omatseye who is also the Managing Director, JNC International cited Kenya where the technology has revolutionised healthcare services.
“M-health helps patients have access to different payment platforms. It can also be used to track and traced data. It can also help patients to have access to telemedicine, where they can access and speak to a doctor even without paying in front of the doctor. “
On the theme of the conference; “Digital Health Technology platform: Engaging Health Systems to Expand Access and Improve Quality”, she noted: “This conference is to help stakeholder to look at what opportunities are there. They way we are doing things right now is not sustainable. We need to take healthcare to every single Nigerian and make sure that every life counts and harnessing mobile technology is one of those big opportunities.
On his part, Programme Manager & Health Lead, health in Africa Initiative, World Bank Group/IFC, Prof. Khama Rogo said the innovation in mobile technology would lead Africa towards the attainment of universal health coverage.
He said mobile health which is referred to as M-Tiba in Kenya offers several advantages as the users which are the women can save money for their own health care, or receive contributions from people who may want to help or other payers.
Speaking, the Country Director for PharmAccess Foundation in Nigeria, Mrs Njide Ndili said: “Our objective is to continue advocacy for the use of digital technology especially using the mobile phone to create access to healthcare especially for the low income communities, and improve efficiency by reducing administration cost of providing healthcare services”
During the workshop, PharmAccess premiered its documentary “The Great Escape” which produced by the Joep Lange Institute in Amsterdam, featuring Prof Khama Rogo, which demonstrated how the mobile phone is revolutionising access to care in Kenya through PharmAccess’ mTiba platform.
It also demonstrated how a low income meat seller, Gladys used her phone to access healthcare in a participating healthcare facility and advocated Nigerians to be more innovative by embracing digital technology.