By Sola Ogundipe
With a current survey showing that only 36 per cent of Nigerians believe their health needs are met by the current healthcare system, experts have identified technology as a major tool to driving Universal Health coverage in Nigeria.
According to the survey conducted by Royal Philips, there were discrepancies between the expectations of Nigerians and the reality of the healthcare system, indicating inefficiencies and ample room for growth.
At the Future of Health Summit organised by Philips Africa and Forbes Africa, the experts who gathered at the event believed that it is time government invests more in health technology.
Giving insight into the study during a panel discussion entitled: The role of technology in the transformation of healthcare in Nigeria, the Chief Executive Officer, Philips Africa, Mr Jasper Westerink, explained that the study highlights the need for a greater focus on preventive healthcare for a sustainable health system.
“The results also reinforce the need for the national government to invest a significant percentage of its healthcare budget towards medical research, preventive care, acute care and general health education.”
Westerink noted that aside from the provision of important healthcare solutions through technology, Philips is committed to educating and creating awareness towards the reduction of risk factors associated with unhealthy lifestyles. The provision of technologies that enable a healthy lifestyle also remains a key priority for Philips Africa.
In his own contribution, the Commissioner of Health, Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris, said there was a Public-Private Partnership, PPP law in the state aimed towards stimulating and creating an enabling environment and the government’s commitment to developing key infrastructure.
He also spoke about the importance of communication and behavioural change initiatives in order to leapfrog from education to ensuring that technologies are well understood and applied in communities
The President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, Mrs Clare Omatseye said despite Nigeria having many skilled consultants, the problem of brain-drain was paramount, hence the need to close the digital divide so consultancy services can be delivered seamlessly across borders.
Omatseye argued that brain-drain could be tackled with better remuneration, access to technologies and better working environments all of which can be fixed with the right level of commitment and investment.
“With technology being a major driver of change, especially today when patients are digitally empowered, healthcare solutions must be incorporated into everyday innovations and meet patients at their point of need,” Omatseye stated.
She mentioned some challenges facing the healthcare sector including financing and access to capital as well as the importance of collaboration with sectors outside healthcare in order to deliver viable solutions
Decrying out-of-pocket payment for healthcare, she encouraged government to ensure mandatory universal health insurance.