Nigeria Communications Satellite Ltd (NigComSat) in partnership with Ethnomet, a Canadian leading firm in healthcare technology recently launched ‘NigComHealth’, a telemedicine platform that will allow millions of Nigerians to have access to quality healthcare. ‘NigComHealth’ will transform the way patients and healthcare providers connect will transform the way patients and healthcare providers connect in the country by providing convenient and accessible medical consultations by licensed healthcare professionals anytime, anywhere via mobile app.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami unveiled NigComHealth in Abuja this week. The Minister, who was represented by his Chief of staff, Professor Sahalu Junaidu, said the platform would promote a “more efficient and effective healthcare system that could be accessible to all Nigerians.”
The minister also added that the current situation is worsening, with “each physician attending to more than 5,000 patients. This represents a stark contrast with WHO’s recommendation of 1 doctor to 600 patients. And with 218 million people to cater for, he said that Nigeria requires at least 363,000 additional doctors to meet this target,” which he believes NigComHealth will help achieve.
The new telemedicine platform combines innovative technology with advanced medical tools and pre-vetted licensed healthcare practitioners, enabling virtual medical visits that are secure, efficient, and personalized. The Federal Government and Ethnomet have partnered with indigenous tech implementation company, Sawtrax to implement the platform across Nigeria. This will make it possible for Nigerians in any part of the country, including rural and remote areas, to book and attend appointments with qualified and specialized doctors.
‘NigComHealth’ Multi-tenant Virtual Healthcare Service Platform is designed for all hospitals to be able to integrate their healthcare professionals and offer digital health services to the Nigerian population.
The Honourable Minister continued, ‘To bridge the gap, there is an urgent need to leverage on disruptive technology to improve access to healthcare services and quality medical practitioners available within Nigeria and across the globe. Therefore, NigComHealth Platform is a timely solution that could ensure that quality healthcare services are available to all Nigerians, irrespective of their locations.” He further encouraged “stakeholders in the health sector, both public and private to onboard into the initiative.”
Mr. James Christoff, the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria said the platform will be a game changer in improving health outcomes especially in underserved and remote areas.
“The technology has been developed with the vision and strategic objective of having over 80 Federal and State-owned Government hospitals coexist on the platform. The platform is also meant to provide digital health services to 1.7 million public sector workers and their families in Nigeria,” he said.
He applauded both the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and the Federal Ministry for Health, for their vision, and unparalleled commitment to the promotion, technology and health innovation in Nigeria.
Engineer Tukur Lawal, the Managing Director of NigComSat Ltd said that the platform will reduce the massive capital flight spent by Nigerians on medical tourism annually.
He opined that the platform will provide Nigerians with the opportunity to access affordable and world-class services from professionals regardless of their geographic location, without the need to travel to urban areas.
Ethnomet CEO, Ms. Garnette Weber, who joined the event virtually, described the digital health solution as a demonstration of the Nigeria Government’s commitment to leveraging innovative technologies to provide quality and accessible healthcare for Nigerians in all regions.
Weber said that “Telehealth has proven to be very effective in addressing these healthcare challenges as indicated in the Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians. In 2022, General Practitioners from 10 different countries reported that 52% of encounters would have been clinically appropriate through video interactions with patients. Telehealth services improve health resource utilization and access to care. “
Mike Amanyi, Product Director for Ethnomet, presented and demonstrated the technology’s capabilities. In addition to booking and attending appointments with doctors and specialists, the opportunity also exists for community virtual health centers, and integrating health data from smartwatches and other wearable devices. NigComSat and Ethnomet have scheduled training for industry stakeholder leaders in days to come”