FG, Ethnomet Launch Digital Healthcare Platform, ‘NigComHealth’

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A cross section of dignitaries during the NigComHealth launch in Abuja.

The Nigeria Communications Satellite Ltd (NigComSat) has joined forces with Ethnomet, a leading Canadian healthcare technology firm, to introduce ‘NigComHealth,’ a groundbreaking telemedicine platform. This innovative solution aims to provide millions of Nigerians with easy access to high-quality healthcare services. By enabling convenient and accessible medical consultations with licensed healthcare professionals via a mobile app, ‘NigComHealth’ will revolutionise the way patients and healthcare providers connect throughout the country.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami officially unveiled ‘NigComHealth’ in Abuja this week. Represented by his chief of staff, Prof. Sahalu Junaidu, the minister emphasised that the platform would promote a more efficient and effective healthcare system accessible to all Nigerians.

The minister also highlighted the pressing issue of the current healthcare situation, with each physician attending to over 5,000 patients, a stark contrast to the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of one doctor per 600 patients. Given Nigeria’s population of 218 million, the minister stressed the need for at least 363,000 additional doctors to meet this target, which he believes ‘NigComHealth’ will help achieve.

This telemedicine platform combines advanced technology, cutting-edge medical tools, and pre-vetted licensed healthcare practitioners to facilitate secure, efficient, and personalised virtual medical visits. To implement the platform nationwide, the Federal Government and Ethnomet have partnered with indigenous tech implementation company Sawtrax. This partnership will ensure that Nigerians from any part of the country, including rural and remote areas, can book and attend appointments with qualified and specialised doctors.

The ‘NigComHealth’ multi-tenant virtual healthcare service platform is designed to enable all hospitals to integrate their healthcare professionals and offer digital health services to the Nigerian population. The Minister further emphasised the urgent need to leverage disruptive technology to improve access to healthcare services and medical practitioners within Nigeria and globally. He encouraged stakeholders in the health sector, both public and private, to join this timely initiative.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. James Christoff expressed his belief that this platform would be a game-changer in improving health outcomes, especially in underserved and remote areas. He commended both the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Federal Ministry of Health for their vision and unwavering commitment to promoting technology and health innovation in Nigeria.

The managing director of NigComSat Ltd, Engr. Tukur Lawal emphasised that the platform would significantly reduce the capital flight spent by Nigerians on medical tourism annually. He stated that ‘NigComHealth’ would provide Nigerians with access to affordable and world-class services from professionals, regardless of their geographic location, eliminating the need for travel to urban areas.

The CEO of Ethnomet, Ms. Garnette Weber joined the event virtually and described this digital health solution as a testament to the Nigerian government’s dedication to leveraging innovative technologies for quality and accessible healthcare in all regions. She emphasised the effectiveness of telehealth in addressing healthcare challenges, citing the Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians. The survey revealed that in 2022, 52 per cent of encounters with general practitioners from 10 different countries could have been appropriately conducted through video interactions with patients. Telehealth services not only improve health resource utilisation but also enhance access to care.

The product director for Ethnomet, Mike Amanyi presented and demonstrated the capabilities of the technology. Beyond booking appointments with doctors and specialists, the platform also allows for the establishment of community virtual health centres and the integration of health data from smartwatches and other wearable devices. NigComSat and Ethnomet have planned training sessions for industry stakeholders in the coming days to ensure seamless adoption and utilisation of the platform.

The launch of ‘NigComHealth’ marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s healthcare landscape, promising a future where quality healthcare is accessible to all Nigerians, regardless of their location. With the collaborative efforts of the Federal Government, Ethnomet, and indigenous tech companies, this digital healthcare platform is set to transform the way healthcare services are delivered and experienced throughout the country.

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