March 16, 2024

FG sets up 20-member Digital Health Committee – Minister

FG sets up 20-member Digital Health Committee – Minister

The Federal Government says it has taken a significant step forward in the journey towards digital health innovation with the establishment of a 20-member Digital Health Committee.

The committee aims to tackle the prevailing fragmentation within the country’s healthcare sector, which has hindered progress in spite of notable advancements.

Dr. Tunji Alausa, Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, said this at the inauguration of the 20-person implementation committee for Nigeria’s Digital Health Initiative (NHDI) in Abuja.

Alausa emphasised the transformative potential of the country’s burgeoning health tech sector, with an impressive count of 136 health tech startups emerging.

However, he expressed concerns about the current landscape, citing inefficiencies and reliance on outdated paper-based methods.

“Real-time information sharing remains a challenge, exacerbating existing gaps in service delivery,” he remarked.

Recognising the urgent need for cohesion and quality data management, the minister pledged the administration’s commitment to reducing fragmentation.

He underscored the vital role of quality data in driving meaningful change across the country.

He acknowledged the presence of other digital platforms in the country serving similar purposes but noted their fragmented nature compared to the new initiatives.

He announced plans to standardise Electronic Medical Record (EMR) solutions under one national EMR platform, facilitating data validation and analysis for improved outcomes.

“The initiative aims to deploy programmes in one federal tertiary hospital in each of the six geopolitical zones over the next five years.

“Geofencing primary healthcare centres within the vicinity of these hospitals will enable a bi-directional flow of information,” he said.

He highlighted efforts to ensure sustainability, focusing on data governance, repository, security, regulation, and standardisation within the digital architecture.

He stressed the involvement of the private sector in the project to ensure long-term sustainability, with the government retaining ownership of the data for future innovation.

Commenting on the initiative, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, highlighted the opportunities to renew the country’s health sector through policy reforms and concerted efforts.

Pate said that the formation of the digital committee represented a crucial step towards leveraging digital technologies to address longstanding challenges and usher in a new era of healthcare excellence in the country.

The Implementation Committee for Nigeria Digital Health Initiative (IC-NDHI), supported by a secretariat team, will be responsible for managing the deployment, architectural design, and pilot of the EMR platform.

It will also provide guidance for the coordination, implementation, and execution of the overarching activities at all levels to drive the health digitalization agenda. (NAN)