By Juliet Umeh
A US-based Nigerian Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Dr. Oyetokunbo Ibidapo-Obe Somorin, has challenged the Federal Government of Nigeria to massively invest in telemedicine to reduce the mass exodus of Nigerian medical practitioners to Western nations.
Ibidapo-Obe made the call during an interactive radio programme titled: “Digital Life”, which aims to bring both Nigerians and the government closer to global technological realities.
The session, which was entitled “Tech Advancements and Telemedicine,” featured intellectual conversations around the need for the practice of telemedicine to be embraced by the government across all levels to enable Nigerians, particularly those residing in rural communities, to have access to quality healthcare services.
Stating the need for the massive adoption of telemedicine Ibidapo-Obe noted that the successes recorded nationwide during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic could be built upon to deepen the healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria which could also serve as a stop-gap to the mass exit of Nigerian doctors.
She said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 played an integral role in bringing the practice of telemedicine to the forefront across the globe, including in Nigeria. This is because telemedicine proved to be the most viable option for containing the risk levels of COVID-19.
“As such, to ensure telemedicine succeeds amongst those at the grassroots level in Nigeria, deliberate efforts must be put in place to ensure adequate resources are available to both the healthcare providers and the users of the telemedicine services nationwide irrespective of their social status,” she added.
She advised the government to deploy some toll-free numbers which can drive success rates across the nation, as a way of enhancing the smooth adoption of telemedicine in rural communities.
The reason for that deployment, according to her is that “over the years, access to data and smartphone devices has been a major challenge impeding the penetration of telemedicine in Nigeria.”