Nigeria’s health burden includes a large number of cases of widespread communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Over 90% of our entire population have no access to early diagnosis and care for psychiatric conditions and neurodevelopmental disorder. According to Save the Children Foundation, 30% of new born deaths in Nigeria are attributable to infections.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sudden and unprecedented increase in hospitalizations for pneumonia with multiorgan disease, due to the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome. It is not deniable that healthcare facilities, infrastructure and personnel are grossly inadequate for the challenges our healthcare sector has been witnessing over the last three decades. In a Covid-19 era, Universal Healthcare Service Provision can only be achieved by mainstreaming service delivery with digital interactive channels and lifestyle footprints for effective coverage.
Indeed, clinical services around the world has adapted to social changes with many medical doctors setting up Facebook and WhatsApp accounts for patient consultation, diagnosis, prescription and management. With the deluge of information available on the internet, proper monitoring, quality assurance and management of medical records have become a very serious issue in addition to being able to reach out and provide necessary care for the patients.
The practical application of telemedicine has been around since 1960s, and the use of wearables have become a commonplace today. However, the maintenance of doctor-patient care relationship is crucial to any healthcare service delivery.
As a medical doctor working at the National Hospital here in Abuja, i have seen how consultation and guidance could make a significance difference in the wellbeing and recuperation of people. There is a paradigm shift that requires this delivery through the use of social media. We have to de-risk hospital visitations so we can protect health workers and patients, ensure a more efficient utilisation of resources and enhance patient’s confidence in the quality and relevance of healthcare delivery.
We cannot achieve this without the necessary capacity development; but the biggest obstacles for practitioners is our mindset. Perspectives and pattern of regulations globally are becoming reflective of issues within and outside medical circles. We need to see these changes as inevitable, and we need to embrace the process in a way that would assure safety, reliability and affordability for our service takers.
(Dr. Mercy David Akhamere is a medical doctor at the National Hospital Abuja)