By CHIOMA OBINNA
TOWARDS boosting healthcare delivery in the country, experts have called on Federal government to enact a national policy on electronic health (eHealth), and come up with strategies that will ensure its integration into the current healthcare system.
eHealth as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies, ICT in support of health and health- related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research.
According to Director, Planning, Research and Statistics Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Mohammed Lecky,
in a paper entitled “Challenges and Opportunity for eHealth in Nigeria,” e-health enterprise is the comprehensive use of ICT to promote more efficient and effective management of the functions and services of the public health sector.
Lecky who stated that many health agencies are taking advantage of ICT to ensure that people have access to healthcare with ease said, “While this is operational in developed and developing countries across the globe, there is no national policy on eHealth in Nigeria; what is in existence is a national information technology policy bill which is presently in the National Assembly for legislation and yet to be passed into law.”
Corroborating his views, the Chief Executive of Global Resources Limited, Dr. Wale Alabi, explained that “E-health and telemedicine involve use of medical information transferred from one site to another through electronic communications to improve patients’ health care including diagnosis and treatment.
“Such information may be as simple as two medical professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as advanced as using video teleconferencing systems.”
Alabi who regretted that the nation is yet to develop a national e- health policy said: Nigeria needs a national e-health plan, a national e-health policy strategy and national e-health legislation.
“There is need for regulation, standardisation and ethics. This is a very critical role for the government, which requires it to harmonise all existing agencies that are doing similar activities and projects that have led to waste of resources”
President, Society for Telemedicine and e-Health in Nigeria, (SFTENIN), Olajide Adebola, tasked government to come up with strategies to ensure integration of e-health into the national health care system.
Such strategies would help in coordinating the use of telemedicine and e-health tools in national health system, he noted.
By CHIOMA OBINNA