Redefining healthcare delivery in Rural areas through Telemedicine

Oyinlola Abosede

There is an Africa that we do not hear about frequently. This is the rising Africa; the treasury of opportunities; an Africa of rich cultural diversity; an Africa of thriving entrepreneurs; an Africa of limitless creativity and innovation; a continent with milk and honey; an Africa of hope where Africans are willing to take ownership of the positive narrative to become ambassadors for positive change.

In a bid to revolutionise how Africans in rural and marginalised communities seek healthcare services and routine medical check-up in the world today, Ahmed Abdulkareem—a Youth and Community Development Enthusiast in Nigeria, has set the pace in redefining how healthcare system is being accessed and delivered in the country through PrimeBridge Health Solutions.

According to him, “PrimeBridge Health Solutions aims to make healthcare accessible to everyone in Nigeria and most importantly ensure that people can receive quality and affordable healthcare from the comfort of their homes, adding that the impact of the initiative would contribute towards promoting the Sustainable Goal 3, ‘Good health and Well-being for all’ in Africa.

In a nationwide survey released by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), it was found among other results that the doctor-population ratio is getting worse, with a physician attending to more than 5,000 patients against the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of 1 doctor to 600 patients. Thus, Ahmed, a Kwara State indigene of Nigeria has chosen the path to bridge this gap by creating a digital healthcare platform that connects one doctor to one patient across rural communities in Kwara State, through the innovation of telehealth.

From routine check-ups, to telemedicine and the provision of mental health support to citizens, Ahmed is set to make a difference with PrimeBridge. The health technology employs a “decentralised medical care system in connecting every Nigerian with certified medical professionals for expert care and support.”

The International School of Management (2019) states that the provision of quality healthcare through a combination of telecommunications and multimedia with medical expertise includes the use of satellite-based technology applications and remote monitoring encompass the prospects of maximising telemedicine for the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063, ‘the Africa We Want.’

Ahmed claims that PrimeBridge telehealth service is a significant milestone that would ensure health equity by improving the quality of life of all Nigerians. More fundamentally, such would increase easy access of underprivileged Nigerians’ in remote regions to healthcare opportunities. He also affirms that this solution is crucial for managing chronic medical conditions, enhancing timely advice and preventing complications in state of emergencies.

Explaining his vision, he believes it would enable individuals to book appointments, receive medical advice and consult with physicians and other healthcare practitioners from their homes, offices, schools and localities, comfortably. The ease of access to consultation, he said, would improve the capacity of healthcare professionals to deliver quality services, by leveraging technology to reach out to patients in remote areas with less physical stress and reduction in the cost of healthcare, all towards promoting an innovative health system in Nigeria.

In an interview on beneficiaries of his project, he affirms that many people who live in remote regions of Kwara communities and low-income communities have limited access to healthcare in Nigeria. 

In addition, he said the launch of PrimeBridge aligns with the Federal Government’s vision to promote digital transformation and boost economic activities in Nigeria. According to him, “this platform will enable people to maximise the benefits of technology innovation and access a wider range of medical experts to deliver quality healthcare, thereby ensuring that every Nigerian has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health.”

Since many rural communities in Northern Nigeria often face challenges due to the limited healthcare facilities and high level of illiteracy,  PrimeBridge focuses on preventing the needless suffering from the outbreak of communicable diseases that are prevalent in the country.

According to him, “the digital National Identification Number (NIN) issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) would be linked with the NHIS number. This would ensure that the data sets and health information of individuals are captured effectively by transferring their personal health records from a community setting using remote patient monitoring (RPM) to a telehealth specialist for accelerating positive health outcomes.”

The data-driven approach according to Ahmed would allow for evidence-based decision making by identifying areas of improvement, understanding symptoms and designing targeted interventions for strengthening healthcare systems.

When asked about the risk associated with the loss of privacy from digital data in the country, Ahmed affirms that the solution prioritizes user privacy and employs robust security measures to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of health information.

Consequently, he said this would unlock Nigeria’s healthcare value chain by establishing a solid framework on the infusion of technology for digital health to improve diagnostic accuracy, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases so as to make telemedicine more accessible, efficient and effective for people in low-income and underserved communities.

Ahmed adds that the platform would enhance the application of telehealth for Africans in the diaspora. Importantly, he said it would foster partnership, engage community health research and facilitate collaboration with multilateral organizations and regional institutions.

On the prospects of driving health innovation for significant impact and universal health coverage in the country, Ahmed advises that in democratising equitable access to healthcare opportunities, public health interventions strategies involving outreach, mobile health (mHealth) technology should be channelled towards strengthening primary healthcare systems (PHC).

 “The incubation of PrimeBridge for telehealth innovation would rapidly evolve the healthcare sector from human oriented to a technology-oriented form using Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted technology for effectiveness and efficiency in data collection, community research and evidence-based interventions for promoting telemedicine applications in Nigeria,” Ahmed stated.

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