The Founder of Mobihealth International, Dr Funmi Adewara, on Thursday said that adopting Telemedicine was one of the best alternative approaches to solving health issues in Nigeria especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adewara made the assertion in an interview in Lagos.
According to her, telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.
“Simply calling on a doctor, nurse or medical professional to ask for their medical opinion is telemedicine.
“Digital revolution is making it possible to now adopt it on a global scale that is secured and in the interest of the patient,” the doctor said.
She said that telemedicine had a lot of advantages, particularly now that there was COVID-19, with lockdown preventing people from going for a face to face consultation.
“It comes in very handy; it is a safety net for those who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and stroke among others which can be managed remotely through telemedicine.
“Telemedicine is a cost effective solution that will help decision expand the scope of their practice.
“One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it has fast-track the adoption of telemedicine globally not just in the Western countries but also in Africa,” Adewara explained.
Adewara said that telemedicine could be used as a digital tool to change the narrative of poor access to healthcare services in Nigeria.
“Telemedicine can also address various challenges people face such as exposure to counterfeit medicine, low health insurance policy, shortage of doctors, among others’’.
She also said that one of the biggest challenges of the use of telemedicine in Nigeria was the extent of internet penetration which was very low in some parts of the country.
“However, Mobihealth has partnered with telecom companies thereby making it’s applications zero-rated so that the patient does not bear the cost of data.
“We are also rolling out across rural areas by partnering with Viasat; a global telecom giant in other to deliver seamless rural internet connectivity with our app,” Adewara added.
She said that over 40,000 digital health applications were under development for medication dispensary to air drone delivery of vaccines and blood which had started taking place in Ghana.
“We also have the first world counterfeit medicine detector app that can tell you whether the medicine you are taking is fake and from where it originated’’..
Adewara said that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) recently pioneered the first integrated telehealth model in the whole of Nigeria military.
“The application of telehealth in the military can help to support both primary and secondary healthcare as well as tertiary healthcare services.
“You can have remote support from your senior more experienced colleague in diaspora while you are in Lagos or elsewhere in the world.
“A doctor can remotely guide a surgeon in theatre during an operation using telemedicine so, there is so much that telemedicine can do in this pandemic era and beyond,” she said.
The doctor, however, said that policies needed to be formulated that would help to drive the adoption of frontier technology to the last man.
“Where there is no cohesive policy, investors will be reluctant to put in their money for further development.
“So, it is in the interest of everybody that policies are put in place to make sure that telemedicine become affordable and accessible to the last man,” Adewara said.