Towards An Innovative Healthcare System In Nigeria, by Zeenat O. Sambo
Technological innovations such as industrial robots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are advancing rapidly. These services will not only improve the quality of goods and services but will improve the health technology in Nigeria.
Tech Hub as a community is known for fostering innovations technology in a big sphere towards improving technological entrepreneurs, university based innovation hub, young inventors amongst others.
Though this is within the global tech market but more is expected to improve in the Nigeria tech community to harness the forbearing tech skills many young Nigerians harness especially for the health sector.
Agreeably, Nigeria health sector has been awakened by the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020. Public health sector and basic health care resources were backward and outdated with many not able to embrace the current realities of rapidly –evolving health technologies.
With the COVID-19 task force operations, many issues on development, recovery and technology impact were addressed, hence the increasing push for growth of technological innovations in the country.
Nigeria’s market is being flooded with many health tech gadgets invented to address medical issues that could previously not be handled promptly due to factors like distant locations, difficult terrain between the medical service provider and the patient/client.
However, many creative Nigerian tech hubs can produce similar gadgets to solve health challenges that are peculiar to our immediate environments. But the federal government’s intervention in innovation and entrepreneurship, engagement with health professionals, young innovators and developers is imperative.
There are numerous health technologies springing up in the global market; some health tech gadgets are specifically designed for medical professionals while others are created for people to keep tab on their health without having to meet physically with their medical personnel for consultation. This means that physical consultations happen only when it becomes necessary.
The use of technologically advanced clinical processes and medical devices can significantly improve patient satisfaction, hire staff of the highest calibre, and ensure compliance with regulations.
Health Technologies have facilitated better diagnostics and treatment by healthcare professionals in recent times.
Electronic health records, diagnostic technologies and robotics are essential medical innovations that should be available in all public health facilities/hospitals, and not only obtainable in a few private which becomes inaccessible to the people due to high cost of services.
At least, this will help limit the rush of many elites that exit the country to seek better medical services.
Nigeria is rated as the African country with the highest number of tech hubs/ community. The country boasts of a large environment to network, invent and attract investors to accelerate high-tech business growth, especially in tech health.
There have been many health tech innovations but most of high are too costly for the masses to afford or access.
Myclinic.ng is one of the digital platforms developed by young, innovative Nigerians during the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. It is a platform that enables people to find and talk to doctors at anytime, anywhere and at an affordable price.
Another Nigerian startup company named Clafiya also offers an innovative visual consultation technology. Clafiya is a platform that connects patients with health practitioners to get affordable and accessible primary care across the African continent. The startup has been selected by Google for its 2022 Accelerator Program as a promising innovation for the health sector.
Visual medical consultation is easier, faster and help patients receive medical care through digital devices.
Efforts by SentinelX, Lafiya Telehealth, and other upcoming health tech startups to bring Medicare closer to the people, should not only be applauded, but also be encouraged to accomplish sustainable growth and prosperity.
In view of the large number of subscribers accessing the service via their smart or non-smart phones (dial a smart number), health tech is one of the fastest growing industries that the government should focus on.
Wearable technologies are another advancement in health tech innovation. There is a high demand for many of them in Nigeria but they are produced abroad and imported into the country at a very high cost to the consumers.
Examples include smart watches, female urinary device, pain relieve device, stress measurement tracker, body building health, Tyto home remote exam kit and so on which are often connected to smartphones.
Following the integration of technology into wearable devices, the wrist is once again a popular place to go for information and so are some parts of the body for wearable gadgets. With wearable technology, wearers can track their healthy decisions and set goals with numerous benefits.
In the case of some smart watches with ECG trackers, it helps to keep a close watch on health and call for help in terms emergencies.
Although, the significance of tech health innovations is not to subject patients to self-treatment. That is why both visuals and non-visual health tech gives analyses but expected to seek further consultation in severe cases.
Hospital high-tech gadgets such as ECG machines, digital glucometers, and automated blood pressure apparatus form part of the numerous advances in health tech.
As much as the effort of the government is commendable, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) and the Nigerian Institute of Information and Communication Technology Engineers (NIICTE), are key actors that can do more to boost innovation in health tech sector.
It is important to note that stronger collaboration among these agencies and private sector stakeholders will create a wider, resourceful and conducive community for research and development of various health tech inventions.
Also, government needs to collaborate with health professionals in public and private health institutions, young innovators, startups and other players in the tech ecosystem to develop gadgets that can address the current problems in Nigeria’s health sector.
Zeenat O. Sambo
CITEC Estate, Jabi Abuja