News The African Way

Nigeria Inaugurates National E-Health Steering Committee To Tackle Health Sector Challenges

Nigeria's Minister of Health Isaac Folorunso Adewole
Nigeria’s Minister of Health Isaac Folorunso Adewole

Abuja (Nigeria) – Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has inaugurated E-health Steering Committee in Abuja to address some health challenges in the country ranging from data collection and management, human resource and issue of universal health coverage.

Speaking during the inaugural ceremony, the Minister said government would address these multipronged challenges through various approaches despite limited resources, adding that Information and Communication Technology has the potential to help mitigate some of these challenges when appropriately applied.

A statement by the director of media and public relations, Federal Ministry of Health Boade Akinola, quoted the minister to have said, “We see technology playing a critical role in achieving government’s target of making 10,000 Primary Healthcare Centres functional across the country in the next 2 years. This is a commitment to our people we fully intend to deliver on.”

Prof. Adewole observed that the rapid growth and penetration of ICTs has ushered in a proliferation of technology applications in every sector of lives, including the health sector, stressing that without appropriate guidance and coordination, technology can become an inhibitor rather than an enabler.

He stressed that, “The world is changing, and we cannot afford to lag behind, let’s take a giant step forward to transform our health sector, let’s use ICT to advance telemedicine; we can achieve this – we have the resources, and we have all it takes.”

The Minister also expressed concern over the proliferation of technology application and lack of coordination which if not checked can further weaken the health system, through duplication of efforts, resultant wastage and inefficient use of lean resources.

He explained that the inauguration of the national E-health structure is to coordinate, guide and monitor E-Health implementations, including setting rules, policies, guidelines and standards to guide stakeholders.

The governance structure is made up of a Steering Committee, a Technical Committee and a Project Management Office. The Steering Committee, he said will provide strategic leadership and direction.

The Technical Committee will provide technical inputs towards implementation, while the Project Management Office which will domicile within the ICT Department, has responsibility for the daily operations and provides necessary secretariat services.

Also speaking, the Minister of Communication Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, recalled that in January 2013, the Federal Government launched an initiative called ‘ICT for Saving One Million Lives’ to promote a result based approach to tackling the challenges Nigeria face in delivering health care services.

He noted that the National e-Health Strategic Framework provides a vision and guide for alignment of current investments in technology within the health sector towards a digitalized health system that will help Nigeria achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2020.

In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs.Binta Adamu Bello stressed the importance of ICT in transforming and facilitating operations in many sectors, especially the health sector.

She noted that the appropriate application of ICT in Health will definitely improve access to, and increase availability of healthcare services to the teeming population of Nigerians; especially in remote and rural areas adding that the quality of care will improve as a result of reduced waiting times for medical treatment or surgical procedures.

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