Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lack of policy, bane of eHealth – Adebola

President, Society for Telemedicine and eHealth in Nigeria, Dr. Olajide Joseph Adebola, has identified lack of proper policy framework as the bane of electronic health (eHealth) implementation in the developing world including Nigeria.

Speaking at the 3rd Nigerian Conference on Telemedicine and eHealth (NICTe2009) in Lagos, at the weekend, he said that with the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), a significant proportion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health, could be achieved by the Least Developed Countries (LDC).

“Studies done in Uganda, Saudi Arabia and three other countries in Eastern Europe showed that one of the major hindrances why eHealth services have not been implemented in developing countries is the lack of policy framework. It is the policy that gives the direction and enabling environment and once there is a policy and framework, every level tier of government will know their responsibility and what to do,” he said.

Adebola said the generality of Nigerians would gain more from the eHealth through having access to quality specialist health care service.

“There is a lot ICT can do. You know ICT is target 18 of MDGs. If we look more at the area of ICT we could do more than we thought we can achieve without it,” he said.

He also said there is need to improve capacity through training of health workers as well as more advocacies to the rural areas through support of other agencies in propagating the ideals of eHealth.

According to him, developing countries cannot speed up the implementation of badly needed eHealth services without close cooperation with the telecommunications sector.

He said there need for developing countries need strategic document on eHealth master plan in order to inform decision makers in the sector about benefits of technology as well as an urgent need for technical guidelines on how to use mobile telecommunications infrastructure.

Tagged: Deploying eHealth tools and services in the Nigerian Health System: The role of mHealth, the 2-day conference aimed at creating more champions that will lead the cause of ehealth.

In a related development the evolution of ICT in the nation’s health sector, has provided healthcare workers access to unprecedented health information and latest ways of treating patients, says Dr. Justin Ekpa, who spoke on: A Cost-effective strategy to improve healthcare delivery in low-resource settings: the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) approach.

He said as critical as information is to patient management, more critical is the ability of the care provider to effectively utilized the same information to the benefit of his patients

He said increasing the capacity of health institutions and health providers to effectively utilize information through evidence-based healthcare delivery strategies even at all tiers of care, is an issue very paramount to modern healthcare systems.

“It is in doing this that the backbone for success of the more elaborate and complicated e-Health projects can make the desired impact,” he said

He also at the smallest levels of our care and in low resource settings, the LRC approach is an option for consideration as a stepping stone to e-health implementation, start small and grow big.

Dr. Ekpa said the reality of our Healthcare system is near absence of information resources in healthcare facilities; neglect of the Primary health care (PHC) system, as the primary and secondary care centres are mere referral systems to the tertiary systems, saying this is an indication that evidence based practice is (EBP) is yet to take root.

Others, he said are lack of change agents; marked computer illiteracy; concentration of ICT innovations in other sectors like banking, telecoms, and entertainment, among others as well as more emphasis on drugs, structures and old orthodox way of training.

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