The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has trained members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Bauchi State chapter, on using Information Technology to promote transformation in the health care sector.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop for the chapter held at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi State, with the theme ‘Healthcare transformation and digital technology’, the NITDA director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said the integration of Information Technology into health care sector would accelerate the attainment of all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG Goal 3.
He noted that the United Nations’ world summit on the information society provides guideline on the integration of ICT into healthcare delivery.
Abdullahi who was represented by the agency’s head, digital ecosystem unit, digital economy department, Dr. Amina Magaji, said the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on the issue called for a close alignment between WSIS process and the 2020 agenda for sustainable development which requests all stakeholders to integrate ICT into their approaches to implementing the goals.
“Under this alignment, the following action lines are linked to the SDG Goal 3 and they include role of stakeholders in promotion of ICT4SDG through cooperation and partnership, focusing on access to information and knowledge, addressing digital literacy and lifelong learning and application of ICT in several areas amongst which are e-Health or digital health,” he said.
While emphasizing the functions of NITDA in this regard, he maintained that the agency would continue to develop and regulate IT for sustainable national development by supporting the implementation of the National Health ICT Strategic Framework.
The NITDA boss further stated that going by the framework, ICT would enable and help in delivering Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria, adding the national strategy was developed using the WHO-ITU toolkit that is capable of creating enabling environment for digital health in Nigeria.
Abdullahi averred that as the nation made efforts to operate in the digital economy, NITDA designated a department called digital economy which would contribute to the attainment of universal healthcare coverage in Nigeria. He assured that NITDA would continue its commitment to harness the potential of technology to find effective and innovative ways to put this potential of leveraging on ICT to develop health care service for all Nigerians.
Earlier, the acting chief medical director of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Dr Haruna Liman, said the opportunity the agency availed the doctors in the state would help to advance the partnership between the health sector and NITDA, being the vanguard of the digital economy in Nigeria, pointing out that “health practice generally is being increasingly digitalized for efficiency and effective treatment of patients.”
He claimed that the digitalization and computer applications in the health sector was impacting positively on the three core mandates that affect teaching hospitals, namely training, research and health care delivery to the extent that one who is not computer literate in this time would find it difficult to practice as health care specialist regardless of his area of specialization.
While acknowledging that the digital applications have help in many areas of the health sector, Liman asserted that only digital revolution could facilitate the kind of development being witnessed today in health care delivery.
He commended NITDA for finding it worthy to organise the workshop and also interact with the hospital with a view of “accessing the gap that we have and make appropriate recommendations on how we can improve on our digitalization processes.”
The CMD expressed optimism that with NITDA partnering the hospital, the effort to digitize the hospital record through electronic health record system would soon become fruitful, adding “our hospital has made efforts to digitize the medical health record. We have interacted with some resource persons but it is still evolving, we have not yet finalized it but I believe with the facilities we have, NITDA can guide us to achieve this.”
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the association’s vice chairman, Dr. Abdulrasheed Baba, commended NITDA for speedy response given to the proposal of the association to be trained on digital transformation in health care delivery.
He said the NMA executive realised that capacity building in ICT in relation to healthcare delivery had become imperative, necessitating it to reach out to NITDA to facilitate the training and appealed to the participants to avail themselves the opportunities provided by the agency to advance their productivity.