The National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) believes that the integration of Information Technology into healthcare sector would accelerate the attainment of all the sustainable Development Goals, (SDG) particularly SDG Goal 3.
This belief was expressed at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi State during a two-day workshop on Healthcare and ICT with the theme “Healthcare Transformation and Digital Technology” organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Medical Association, (NMA) Bauchi State chapter.
Making the remarks on behalf of the Agency’s Director General, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Head, Digital Ecosystem Unit, Digital Economy Department, Dr Amina Sambo-Magaji stated that the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society provides guideline on the integration of ICT into healthcare delivery.
She added that resolution of the United Nation General Assembly calls for “a close alignment between WSIS process and the 2020 agenda for sustainable development which requests all stakeholders to integrate ICT into their approaches to implementing the goals.
She said, “Under this alignment, the following action lines are linked to the SDG Goal 3 and they include; role of stakeholders in promotion of ICT4SDG through cooperation and partnership, focusing on access to information and knowledge, addressing digital literacy and lifelong learning and application of ICT in several areas amongst which are e-Health or Digital Health.”
While emphasizing the functions of NITDA in this regard, she maintained that the Agency will continue to develop and regulate IT for sustainable national development by supporting the implementation of the National Health ICT Strategic Framework.
Dr Sambo further stated that going by the Framework, ICT would enable and help in delivering Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria, adding that the National Strategy was developed using the WHO-ITU toolkit that is capable of creating enabling environment for digital health in Nigeria.
She averred that as the nation makes efforts to operate in the Digital Economy, NITDA designated a department called Digital Economy which would contribute to the attainment of Universal Healthcare Coverage in Nigeria.
She assured that NITDA would continue its commitment to harness the potential of technology to find effective and innovative ways to put this potential of leveraging on ICT to develop health care service for all Nigerians.
Earlier, the Acting Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Haruna Liman noted that the opportunity the Agency availed the doctors in the state would help to advance the partnership between the health sector and NITDA, being the vanguard of the digital economy in Nigeria. “Indeed, health practices generally is being increasingly digitalized for efficiency and effective treatment of patients,” he affirmed.
He stated that the digitalization and computer applications in the health sector is impacting positively on the three core mandates that affect teaching hospitals, these he said include, training, research and health care delivery to the extent that one who is not computer literate in this time would find it difficult to practice as health care specialist regardless of his area of specialization.
While acknowledging that the digital applications have help in many areas of the health sector, Dr Liman informed that only digital revolution can facilitate the kind of development being witnessed today in health care delivery. “Definitely, the benefits that we stand to gain from the application of digitalization of health sector cannot be enumerated.
He commended NITDA for finding it worthy to organise the workshop and also interact with the hospital with a view of “accessing the gap that we have and make appropriate recommendations on how we can improve on our digitalization processes.”
The CMD expressed optimism that with NITDA partnering with the hospital, the effort to digitize the hospital record through Electronic Health Record system would soon become fruitful. “Our hospital has made efforts to digitize the medical health record. We have interacted with some resource persons but it is still evolving, we have not yet finalized it but I believe with the facilities we have, NITDA can guide us to achieve this.
He equally appealed to the Agency to ensure that the engagement does not end with the workshop. He said, “I want you to forge continued partnership with us because we are still evolving like a toddler who needs guidance from his parents.”
The Vice Chairman of NMA, Dr Abdulrasheed Yakubu Baba in welcome remarks commended NITDA for speedy response given to the proposal of the Association to be trained by NITDA on digital transformation in health care delivery.
He said the NMA Executive realised that capacity building in ICT in relation healthcare delivery has become imperative and this necessitated the executive to reach out to NITDA to facilitate the training.
He appealed to the members of the Association to avail themselves the opportunities provided by the Agency to advance their productivity.