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April 24, 2024
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Stakeholders at roundtable in Abuja, brainstorming on expansion of scope on the digital healthcare system in Nigeria.

Digital healthcare: Organisation partners government to expand scope

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By Okon Okon

An Abuja-based NGO, Digital Health Interoperability Network (DHIN), has expressed readiness to partner with the Federal Government to expand the scope of digital healthcare system.

The DHIN management made the pledge on Tuesday in Abuja at a roundtable on
Unique Identifiers for Management of Cross-Institutional Duplicate Health Records’.

Speaking, Mr Emeka Chukwu, a Digital Health Consultant and a Co-Convener DHIN, said the initiative was born out of passion for the workable solution to interoperability of healthcare system in Nigeria as practiced in the banking sector.

“For many years we have been in this field and we have not seen practical application in Nigeria’s healthcare system and we have realised that everyone is trying to build his own Interoperability system.

“And we figured that what we need to do is to bring people to work together, not at a theoretical level but at a practical level to start building systems that are interoperable not as one organisation but as multiple organisation.

“Just like what we have in the banking sector, Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), where we have system that settles transactions across banks.

“We also want to stand as such an organisation like NIBSS that will settle transactions in health sector across hospitals in Nigeria.

According to him, when the health system is strengthened, then those in the rural areas will also benefit and technology has shown that it increases access to healthcare facilities, reduces cost if it is properly implemented.
“When systems are interoperable, you can serve cost, you can make sure that there is no duplicate records, no fraudulent system, and other waste in the system can easily be streamlined. “

Also, Mrs Vivian Okafor, Head, E-Health Division, Federal Ministry of Health, explained that the digital health initiative was looking towards achieving universal health coverage to involve the rural areas in particular.

“We in Nigeria have come to imbibe digital health and currently at the ministry of health. Infact, we are looking towards digitising all our Federal Tertiary Institutions.

“We are hoping that the states and the lower level of health will equally follow suit because with digitisation, it will go a long way to improve health outcome in Nigeria, ” she explained.

Okafor further stated that the forum would serve as a medium to collectively identify some gaps and challenges to extend digital services to rural areas in particular, looking at challenges such as epileptic power supply, gaps in technology/internet system among other factors that could hinder the initiative.

Mr Emmanuel Edet, Ag Director Standards Guidelines/Frameworks, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), explained that the essence of the initiative was to promote the use of digital technology in healthcare delivery.

According to Edet, NITDA is government agency charged with the responsibility of encouraging the development of digital economy in Nigeria and the agency is interested in the initiative brought by the DHIN to expand the scope of health system in Nigeria.

“We are particularly interested because our function has to do with encouraging the development of digital economy in Nigeria and one of the sectors that will benefit a lot from the digital economy is the health sector, ” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the participants at the forum were; Public Health Professionals, Digital Health/ Digital Software Developers, Doctors, stakeholders in health sectors, Health IT Innovators, Data Scientists, Policymakers and regulators.

NAN also reports that DHIN is an NGO that promotes open standards, data integrity, and privacy protection.

It also aspires to transform healthcare into a holistic, patient-centered experience where data flows effortlessly, enabling accurate diagnoses, personalized treatments, and proactive wellness management. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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