In a groundbreaking collaboration, the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Ltd., has joined forces with Ethnomet, a Canadian information technology firm, to address the longstanding challenges of healthcare access in Nigeria.
With a population of over 210 million people, the country has struggled to provide quality healthcare services, especially in rural and remote areas where the majority of the population resides. To tackle this issue head-on, Ethnomet has partnered with local tech company Sawtrax Limited and NIGCOMSAT to introduce an innovative telemedicine platform known as ‘NigComHealth’.
Through this game-changing virtual health platform, the partnership aims to revolutionise healthcare access for Nigerians, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for all.
During the official launch, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami highlighted the alignment of the telehealth service platform with the government’s vision for digital transformation and economic growth.
The minister praised the project as a pioneering initiative in Africa, which would also save the country billions of dollars spent on medical tourism. Nigeria annually spends between US$1.2 billion and US$1.6 billion on outbound medical tourism, as wealthier Nigerians seek better healthcare services abroad. The NigComHealth programme intends to significantly reduce this practice by providing easy access to top-notch medical practitioners through its digital platform, thereby making high-quality healthcare available to all Nigerians.
The Canadian High Commissioner, James Christoff applauded the NIGCOMSAT virtual hospital as a digital innovation and a potential game-changer in improving health outcomes, particularly in underserved and remote areas. He commended the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and the Federal Ministry of Health for their visionary approach and unwavering commitment to promoting technology and health innovation in Nigeria.
The NigComHealth platform aims to address Nigeria’s low doctor-to-patient ratio, which currently stands at 1:5,000 patients, far below the global standard of one physician per 600 patients.
The secretary-general of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr. Uche Ojinmah and a family physician and biostatistician, Dr. Jide Onyekwelu have revealed that the doctor-patient ratio in the country has worsened over time. Each physician now attends to more than 5,000 patients, highlighting the urgent need for improvement. To meet the recommended target and adequately cater to Nigeria’s population of 218 million people, the country would require at least 363,000 additional doctors.
The CEO of Ethnomet, Ms. Garnette Weber emphasised that Nigeria, like many other nations, faces a critical shortage of healthcare professionals. The NigComHealth platform, designed to host multiple healthcare centres and millions of service providers, can be accessed through the NigComHealth App. Patients can use their mobile phones to search for healthcare professionals with the appropriate expertise, schedule appointments, and attend virtual consultations, all from the comfort of their homes.
During the product presentation, the business development lead at Ethnomet, Mike Amanyi highlighted the key features of the platform. The NigComHealth App offers three basic modules: “Doctors and Hospitals on Demand,” where users can book appointments with doctors and healthcare service providers of their choice; ” NigComHealth Virtual Connect Centre,” which offers community-based clinics for consultations with doctors on the platform; and “Doctors on the Go,” which allows users with wearables and mobile devices to connect with doctors through the app’s digital healthcare platform.
According to data from the Nigeria Health Facility Registry (NHFR), the country currently has a total of 39,914 operational hospitals and clinics, both private and public, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
The CEO of Sawtrax Nigeria, Sylvia Okeke expressed her enthusiasm about the launch, emphasising the affordability and accessibility of quality healthcare that it would bring to Nigerians. With the extensive reach of NIGCOMSAT, Nigerians can now access quality healthcare and professionals regardless of their location.
Ethnomet, a Canadian-based digital health-as-a-service platform provider with 150 years of combined experience in delivering technology and healthcare services across global regions, has joined forces with Sawtrax, a Nigerian IT firm specialising in innovative technological solutions that address global challenges. Together, they aim to transform healthcare delivery in Nigeria and improve the well-being of its population.