ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

COVID-19: Focusing on digital development of the nation’s health sector [ICT Clinic]

It all began in the city of Wuhan, Hubei, China and before the world could realise what has come upon it, the coronavirus has spread to every continent on the globe. This has prompted the World Health Organisation to declare the disease a pandemic.

Initially, Africa was, erroneously, thought to be immune against the COVID-19, until the first case was confirmed in Egypt, on Friday, February 14, 2020. Unfortunately, Nigeria became the first country in the sub-Saharan African region, to record the case.

So far, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and other related agencies, have moved swiftly, to act to minimise the spread of this pandemic. We have, also, seen corporate bodies and individuals, respond to the pandemic, through their donations.

However, what appears to be of note is that, the action of both the Federal and State Governments, no matter how commendable, is not, just enough, to solve the issues relating to the pandemic, in terms of getting the patients closer to healthcare facilities and personnel.

We have seen the high level of risks that some health workers are exposed to, in the course of attending to COVID-19 patients. Some of them have become cases themselves! Individuals who appear to exhibit the symptoms of the disease, however, do not, necessarily have to visit the hospital to have contact with medical personnel.

One may be prompted to ask, how is diagnosis or treatment, possible without a physical interaction? This is where technology comes in, and recall that technology has reshaped and continues to reshape every sector of the economy. In such periods as we currently have, a health care sector with a full digital structures, may have probably saved the lives of both patients and health workers, as minimal body contacts, would have been needed, thus the spread of the virus would have been greatly reduced.

There are some health tech start-ups that appear to have embraced the concept of ‘Telemedicine’, which refers to the act of taking care of patients remotely, by employing a digital medium.

How a developing country like Nigeria can now respond to restructuring its health sector, beyond this coronavirus era is something worth looking into.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the Nigerian health sector would not remain the same, post COVID-19.

“I believe that after COVID-19, Nigeria will not be the same again as there will be provision of infrastructure that was, hitherto neglected”, Mustapha was reported to have assured.

I can only hope that this statement, coming from a high-ranking Federal Government representative is not a mere rhetoric.

The power of technology has always stared us in the face, but collectively, as a nation, we have sometimes failed to leverage its usefulness. Technology has greatly impacted the financial sector of this country, giving access to the unbanked.

In agriculture too, many local farmers have leveraged the power of — Finish Reading on the Punch

About the author

Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr

CFA hosts Tech Trends on Channels Television, writes the ICT Column in the Punch Newspapers & also blogs on cfagbata.com.

CFA currently serves as the African Regional Director of Founder Institute.

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