NIGCOSAT launches as a telehealth platform to ease healthcare access for Nigerians

NIGERIA— The Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), has launched a telehealth service platform, Nigeria Communication Health Service (NIGCOMHEALTH) that is seen as an unprecedented move to leverage its wealth of expertise in the digital space to assist Nigeria’s ailing healthcare sector.

The product was a collaboration between NIGCOMSAT, and Ethnormet, a Canadian Information Technology firm, to enable Nigeria’s access to healthcare services easily and affordably.

The services will range from booking appointments, seeking medical advice, and consultation with healthcare professionals from anywhere i.e., their homes, offices, schools, and local communities.

The telehealth platform, NIGCOMHEALTH, is expected to provide digital health services to over 1.7 million individuals in Nigeria and transform how underserved and remote areas access medical services.

The NIGCOMHEALTH platform is a timely solution that could ensure the availability of quality healthcare services to all Nigerians, irrespective of their locations.

As a telehealth service, they have proffered to serve by reducing the burden of physical hospital visits while enhancing the overall quality of healthcare for citizens.

Moreso, the launch of NIGCOMHEALTH aligns with the Nigerian government’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria and the vision to promote digital transformation and boost economic activities in the country. 

According to the Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. James Christoff, NIGCOMHEALTH will be regarded as Africa’s first digital healthcare platform and is a revolutionary and transformative innovation that will potentially serve and aid the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

Subsequently, the Canadian commissioner highlighted the vision to establish and incorporate over 80 federal and state-owned hospitals on the NIGCOMHEALTH platform. 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ethnomet, Garnette Weber, emphasizing the importance of telehealth services as a proven strategy to meet the growing demand for healthcare resources, praised the Nigerian government’s dedication to utilizing cutting-edge technologies for high-quality, widely accessible healthcare nationwide. 

She also said, “The continuous increase in the global population has resulted in a growing demand for scarce healthcare human resources, which has become a global concern for governments.”

Furthermore, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, highlighted the transformative potential of NIGCOMHEALTH in revolutionizing the healthcare sector in Nigeria.

Prof Isa also noted, “As we are all aware, compared to other developed nations, our healthcare system is still underdeveloped in telemedicine, outreach, and accessibility to quality healthcare services for many of our communities, especially those residing in rural and remote areas.”

The Minister illuminated that the bridge this gap, there is an urgent need to leverage disruptive technology to improve access to healthcare services and the availability of quality medical practitioners within Nigeria and across the globe.

According to the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Engineer Tukur Lawal, NIGCOMHEALTH will give Nigerians access to receive world-class and inexpensive professional services regardless of their geographic location.

In addition, Engineer Tukur Lawal guaranteed that the provided healthcare services would be affordable and inclusive, including for Nigerians without smartphones.

Engineer Tukur urged Nigerians to sign up and leverage the services while encouraging medical professionals in the public and private sectors to join the platform and help Nigeria’s health sector expand.

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has noted the worsening doctor-patient ratio in the country, with each physician attending to more than 5,000 patients, a significant contrast to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one doctor per 600 patients.

With a population of 218 million, Nigeria requires at least 363,000 additional doctors to meet this target.

Telehealth has proven to be an effective tool in addressing healthcare challenges such as access, accountability, and timely care, as demonstrated in the Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians.

The survey revealed that practitioners from ten countries reported that 52% of encounters could have been appropriately managed through video interactions with patients.

The NIGCOMHEALTH platform will ensure an inclusive and more effective healthcare system in Nigeria.

By utilizing technology to reach patients in distant locations with minimal financial costs and physical strain, it will increase the ability of healthcare providers to deliver high-quality treatments.

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