Bridging doctor-patient ratio gap to boost access to healthcare delivery in Nigeria
With reports showing a continuous migration of Nigerian doctors abroad in search of better work conditions, leading to a dramatic reduction in the number of doctors in the country, as well as the high cost of medical treatment, many Nigerians will not be able to access healthcare as the rich would seek for better medical care outside the country.
According to statistics, with Nigeria’s population at about 200 million, the ratio of doctor per patient remains 1:5, 000 as against the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of 1:600, which poses severe risk on the health of the populace as health indicators may continue to decline and get worse.
To address this major challenge facing Nigeri’s health system, Josmol, a health technology company, has launched a robust telemedicine offering – DoktorConnect to provide quality, accessible and affordable healthcare to all Nigerians regardless of status.
Speaking at the launch of the Medicare app, the Chief Executive Officer, Josmol, Dr. Joseph Olowe, explained that the digital application provides a platform for anyone, anywhere and at anytime to access instant medical expertise that is accurate, trustworthy, relevant, and actionable.
He said with the DoktorConnect app, Nigerians can consult with a licensed doctor 24/7, request a medical checkup, get a prescription delivered to their doorstep, enjoy accidental coverage and instructor led fitness training videos, all on their mobile phone.
Olowe added that DoktorConnect boasts of a Digital Medical Record that eliminates the use of files and paperwork, allowing patients to have all their medical history stored in a secured and encrypted environment digitally, noting that customers can also assess a comprehensive annual wellness test that covers the status of their cell age, kidney, heart, liver, urinary tract, among others.
“We believe that everyone should have instant and affordable access to healthcare irrespective of their geographical location, hence our effort in bringing to Nigeria the latest technology to help drive a healthier nation: No one needs to die from a preventable ailment. No one needs to be stuck in traffic, join endless queues and pay through their nose in a bid to see a doctor. Now, access to quality healthcare is in your hands, and on your phone,” he said.
Olowe further added that in order to ensure a complete and robust healthcare delivery, Josmol is also introducing into the market the latest mobile and innovative DIY (Do It Yourself) Medical devices such as a six in one monitor that measures blood pressure, blood sugar, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), among others and automatically uploads results into people’s medical record on the DoktorConnect platform.
He said the DoktorConnect App can be downloaded on the Google playstore and would be available on iOS within the next seven days. iOS (formerly iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware.
The Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Chapter, Dr. Adetunji Adenekan, said telemedicine is an evolving area of medicine that should be applauded and encouraged in Nigeria.
He said it bridges the gap between the doctor and the patient, as well as the patient and their own health. Adenekan said looking at the current ratio of doctors to the citizen rate in Nigeria, which should have been 1:500, but rather stands at 1:5,000, also considering the number of doctors presently in Nigeria, due to the brain drain and the COVID-19 causing some deaths among the physicians, there is no way every Nigerian can be covered.
“A doctor’s death is a de-service to about 6, 000 Nigerians. NMA Lagos lost 10 doctors to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic and that means that 60, 000 Nigerians will be without doctors to render healthcare services to them….”
“DoktorConnect is a very laudable programme and it should be encouraged to go on and it is something we will like to embrace. NMA Lagos will connect with them to see how we can continue to render services to Lagosians and Nigerians at large,” he said.
The State Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Sam Yenyi, commended the DoktorConnect health technology, noting that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have great potential to address some of the challenges faced by both developed and developing countries in providing accessible, cost-effective, high-quality health care services.
Yenyi, in his key note address titled: “Accessing Wellness and Healthcare Using Technology”, said telemedicine uses ICTs to overcome geographical barriers and increase access to health care services, which he said is beneficial for rural and underserved communities in developing countries and groups that traditionally suffer from lack of access to health care.
Yenyi noted that telemedicine is the future of health delivery and is most certainly a major tool to achieve universal health coverage towards reaching the vision of ‘leaving no one behind’, adding that it will potentially improve collaborative learning across health professionals and ultimately impact positively on the quality of healthcare, even in the remote corners of the world.
He, however, encouraged Nigerians to embrace with open mind, information to telemedicine to help address the problems hindering access to quality and affordable healthcare to all and sundry.