In a groundbreaking partnership, NIGCOMSAT Limited, the Nigerian Communication Satellite company, has joined forces with Ethnomet, a Canadian digital healthcare company, to introduce the innovative virtual hospital platform known as NIGCOMHEALTH.
This cutting-edge platform aims to bring digital health services to over 1.7 million individuals employed in the public sector and their families throughout Nigeria.
The official launch of the initiative took place today (May 15, 2023) in Abuja, garnering praise from the Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. James Christoff who lauded the NIGCOMSAT virtual hospital as a revolutionary digital innovation with the potential to transform healthcare, particularly in underserved and remote areas.
Christoff commended the collaboration between Canada and Nigeria, emphasising the endless possibilities that arise from the strong bilateral trade relationship. He highlighted the vision of having over 80 federally and state-owned government hospitals coexisting on the NIGCOMHEALTH platform.
Speaking virtually, the CEO of Ethnomet, Ms. Garnette Weber expressed her admiration for the Nigerian government’s commitment to leveraging innovative technologies for quality and accessible healthcare across the country. She acknowledged the significance of the project and its potential to improve the lives of Nigerians, regardless of their geographical location.
Weber emphasised the growing demand for healthcare resources worldwide due to the increasing global population. Telehealth has proven effective in addressing these challenges by enhancing health resource utilisation and access to care.
“The continuous increase in the global population has resulted in a growing demand for scarce healthcare human resources, which has become a major concern for governments globally.
“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 per cent of encounters would have been clinically appropriate through video interactions with patients. Telehealth services improve health resource utilisation and access to care,” she stated.
The NIGCOMHEALTH Multitenant Digital Healthcare Service Platform is designed for all government hospitals to integrate their healthcare professionals and offer digital health services to the Nigerian population. Government employees and their families will have access to the platform anytime and anywhere.
Today’s launch signifies a collective effort among various stakeholders connected through Ethnomet technology to bring high-quality and accessible healthcare to the people of Nigeria, Weber added.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami highlighted the transformative potential of NIGCOMHEALTH in revolutionizing the healthcare sector in Nigeria.
“As we are all aware, compared to other developed nations, our healthcare system is still underdeveloped in terms of telemedicine, outreach, and accessibility to quality healthcare services for the vast number of our communities, especially those residing in rural and remote areas. To 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. Therefore, the NigComHealth Platform is a timely solution that could ensure the availability of quality healthcare services to all Nigerians, irrespective of their locations,” he said.
Represented by Prof. Sahalu Junaidu, his chief of staff, Pantami explained that NIGCOMHEALTH is a telehealth service that enables Nigerians to book appointments, receive medical advice, and consult with physicians and healthcare practitioners from the comfort of their homes, offices, schools, and localities. This service will reduce the burden of physical hospital visits while enhancing the overall quality of healthcare for citizens.
The minister emphasised that the launch of NIGCOMHEALTH aligns with the Federal Government’s vision to promote digital transformation and boost economic activities in Nigeria. The platform promotes a more efficient and effective healthcare system accessible to all Nigerians. It also improves the capacity of healthcare professionals to deliver quality services by leveraging technology to reach patients in remote areas with reduced costs and physical stress.
Pantami commended the private sector partners who collaborated with the government to make NIGCOMHEALTH a reality. He urged all Nigerians to embrace the service and take advantage of the opportunities it offers to promote health equity throughout the country.
The product director, Mike Amanyi provided an overview of the platform, explaining that the technology developed by Ethnomet, with support from Sawtrax, offers the Nigerian government, through NIGCOMSAT, an opportunity to accelerate development in the health sector.
Earlier, the NIGCOMSAT managing director, Engr. Tukur Lawal explained that the platform will reduce the massive capital flight spent by Nigerians on medical tourism annually.
He elaborated 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. He also assured that the services would be so affordable that even Nigerians who don’t own a smartphone would be able to access doctors’ services, even in rural areas.
Lawal urged Nigerians to register and take advantage of the services, while also encouraging medical practitioners in both the government and private sectors to join the platform and contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s health sector.