FG unveils NigComSat virtual hospital to reduce medical tourism
In a move to reduce medical tourism by Nigerians, the Federal Government has unveiled a new digital healthcare service, NigComHealth, a timely solution that could ensure that quality healthcare services are available to all Nigerians, irrespective of their locations.
This is coming as Nigeria is said to lose between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion to medical tourism yearly.
Speaking at the launch of the project developed by the Nigeria Communications Satellite Ltd (NigComSat) yesterday, in Abuja, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, said that the practice of medical tourism, where the more privileged Nigerians travel abroad for better medical service is hoped to reduce drastically through the NigComHealth programme, where easy access to first class medical practitioners would be made available to all Nigerians via NigComHealth digital Platform.
Pantami noted that the project would deploy the power of communication technologies to improve the quality of life for all Nigerians, adding that this service is set to transform the healthcare sector in Nigeria
He said, “As we are all aware, comparative to other developed nations, our healthcare system is still underdeveloped in terms of telemedicine, outreach and accessibility to quality healthcare services by the vast number of our communities, especially those residents in rural and remote areas. To bridge the gap, there is urgent need to leverage the disruptive technology to improve access to healthcare services and quality medical practitioners available within Nigeria and across the globe.
We are proud of the effort of NigComSat in leading this game-changing initiative. It is a ground-breaking digital health service platform for all Nigerians which is poised to transform the healthcare sector in Nigeria.
“Based on the data from the Nigeria Health Facility Registry (NHFR), Nigeria has a total of 39,914 operational hospitals and clinics. This number combines private and public hospitals across the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of care. Closely related, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has said that 70 per cent of Nigerians presently live in the rural areas where the hospital facility closest to them are primary healthcare centres.”
The minister, who explained that the NigComHealth Platform is a telehealth service that provides a platform for Nigerians to book appointments, receive medical advice or recommendation and consult with physicians and other healthcare practitioners from the comfort of their homes, offices schools and localities, stated that access to these services will not only reduce the burden of physical hospital visits, but also enhance the overall quality of healthcare services for citizens.
“The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) through their President and Secretary-General, Drs. Uche R. Ojinmah and Jide Onyekwelu argued in Gombe during the Association’s 2022 National Executive Council (NEC) that “the doctor-patient ratio in the country is getting worse, with a physician attending to more than 5,000 patients. This represents a stark contrast with WHO’s recommendation of one doctor to 600 patients. With 218 million people to cater to, Nigeria requires at least 363,000 additional doctors to meet this target,” he stated.
He noted that with this platform, government is promoting a more efficient and effective healthcare system that could be accessible to all Nigerians, stressing that this will also improve the capacity of our healthcare professionals to deliver quality services, by leveraging technology to reach out to patients in the remote areas with less cost and physical stress.