July 2017 – Lagos, Nigeria – With increasing numbers of people seeking healthcare services, rising costs and pressure to innovate, the healthcare sector needs to adopt the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the current healthcare system in Nigeria. This is according to Lanre Kolade, Managing Director of Vodacom Business Nigeria, during his keynote speech at the Information Communications Technology and Telecommunications (ICTEL) Expo, 2017 organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A recent report from the World Health Organisation’s Global Healthcare Workforce Alliance shows that the primary challenge for Nigeria’s healthcare system is inadequate production and the inequitable distribution of health workers, where the ratio of health workers per ten thousand citizens sits at 1.95. This means that citizens seeking healthcare services outstrip the availability of trained staff and those in need may be far from the nearest hospital or clinic.
Kolade said “The Internet of Things is a powerful tool for us to successfully address Nigeria’s healthcare challenges. IoT can be used to increase access to healthcare by extending the scope of care services to rural and hard-to-reach areas and ensuring that essential medicines are available where and when they are needed. This technology is powering connected medical services that enable healthcare professionals to diagnose and consult with patients and first responders remotely, no matter where they are.”
Kolade went explained that the cost of managing global populations and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions is putting governments worldwide under considerable pressure. “IoT technology becomes pivotal to drive healthcare efficiency, where governments and industry bodies can use large-scale data sets gathered by IoT to analyze treatment effectiveness, track the spread of diseases and understand macro trends in population health, to guide policy decisions making,” he added.
IoT is significant to realizing a digital healthcare system in Nigeria. Technology makes it possible to connect assets of all kinds – everything from heart monitors to chiller cabinets. These assets are equipped with sensors that monitor their environments, and with a network connection, so they can communicate.
Vodacom recently partnered with Kaduna State Government to launch a mobile technology-based healthcare program, SMS for Life 2.0, in the state. It aims to increase the availability of essential medication by monitoring drug stock levels, improving the delivery of healthcare for citizens who access public health services. Vodacom is the technology partner for the initiative, which is a public-private partnership with Novartis and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health. Vodacom has concluded the training and deployment of SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna, with over 250 facilities using the platform to date. This initiative is planned to be implemented in all thirty-six states.