The urgent need for technological transformation in Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure

In 2018, Dr Chibuike Joseph Chukwudum made headlines for being a hero when he oversaw the birth of a premature baby at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Anambra. In the absence of an incubator at the hospital, a dire necessity for the baby’s survival, he made one from scratch with an empty paper carton. The improvised incubator had Ankara clothes serving as foam for the baby to lay on, a hot water flask to keep the heat, and improvised lighting from a bulb to illuminate the incubator. The baby survived.
healthcare PHOTO: pexels/daniel frank
Healthcare PHOTO: Pexels/Daniel Frank

In 2018, Dr Chibuike Joseph Chukwudum made headlines for being a hero when he oversaw the birth of a premature baby at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Anambra. In the absence of an incubator at the hospital, a dire necessity for the baby’s survival, he made one from scratch with an empty paper carton. The improvised incubator had Ankara clothes serving as foam for the baby to lay on, a hot water flask to keep the heat, and improvised lighting from a bulb to illuminate the incubator. The baby survived.

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Through the last decade, the Nigerian healthcare sector has witnessed very few miracles such as Dr Chukwuma’s heroic delivery. A 2017 survey on medical errors in Nigeria published by the Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences showed a 42.8 percent prevalence of medical negligence per 145 medical practitioners. This figure, primarily attributed to a decline in education, skills, and technical knowledge by medical practitioners, is undeniably aggravated by the stagnant technological advancement in the sector.

It was expected that with the growing rate of technological transformation occurring in every sector and across diverse industries, the Nigerian healthcare sector would be greatly impacted and show significant progress. In reality, the healthcare system in Nigeria has failed to advance technologically, lagging behind other advanced global healthcare systems.

In 2018, the World Health Organization estimated that there were only 3.81 doctors per 10,000 population in Nigeria. With a growing population of over 215 million individuals who remain underserviced by an underfunded and badly governed health infrastructure, urgent advancement in healthcare technology becomes a matter of life and death for millions.

The future of healthcare is shaping up significantly across the world with exceptional progress made in digital healthcare technologies such as artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D-printing, wearables, robotics, nanotechnology, among others. Telemedicine has expanded beyond its original scope, now offering a broad range of long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and even remote admissions.

As digital health services rely on the availability of telecommunication and internet services, Nigeria has a massive opportunity for innovative disruption. The sustainable growth of the healthcare industry in Nigeria relies on embracing various technological innovations as the use of technology is needed to improve the quality of care and service delivery.

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Technological advancement in Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure will undoubtedly transform patient-care efficiency, ensuring utmost customer satisfaction and a better quality of life for both patients and physicians. As healthcare equipment manufacturers continuously produce innovations which streamline medical procedures, this ensures limited risks of medical negligence.

In short, for a story of significant progress to be told about the health sectors in Nigeria and West Africa, our health systems need to significantly invest in technological innovations via healthcare equipment and solutions.

This week, the leading healthcare trade platform in the West African region, Medic West Africa Exhibition and Conference, returned to offer a collective platform for healthcare professionals and stakeholders to explore the latest technological advancements within the industry. Beginning on Wednesday, the 07th and continuing till Friday, the 09th of September 2022 at Landmark Center, Lagos, over 150 companies representing 21 countries are set to exhibit the latest advancement in healthcare equipment and solutions for the betterment of our regional healthcare sectors.

An array of healthcare equipment and services will be exhibited, including state-of-the-art imaging equipment, laboratory and IVD technology, developments in surgery, advances in prosthetics, and cost-effective disposables, among others. Hosted annually, Medic West Africa is an networking hub for all parties in the healthcare ecosystem including manufacturers, distributors, procurement professionals, dealers, medical professionals, and regulators.

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Furthermore, the event is set to host several interactive sessions, leveraging the expertise of key players in the industry on topical issues for the advancement of the healthcare industry. These panels include topics such as ‘Leveraging disruption in healthcare – opportunities & challenges in technology’, ‘Human Resource for Healthcare: Building an efficient and resilient workforce’, ‘Consumer-Driven Healthcare Innovations (CDHIs)- Data, Devices and Digital Health Solutions, and ‘COVID – A socioeconomic phenomenon.

Attendance is free for healthcare professionals and other relevant stakeholders. Registration is found on their website: www.medicwestafrica.com for those wanting to network with fellow industry players with the end goal of transforming the healthcare industry.

There is an urgent need for transformational growth in Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure which can only be achieved via investment in technology equipment and solutions. Medic West Africa is set to host discourse and exhibit technology that will unequivocally improve our national healthcare infrastructure, driving remarkable transformation and progress for our region.

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