We are always seeking innovative approaches to the myriad of challenges in the Nigerian health sector. If you follow this blog, you will also be interested in this website - eHealth and Information Systems Nigeria.
On this website, we found an interesting story about a project which is focused on improving maternal and child health in Northern Nigeria, by creating effective ways to implement reliable health information management systems.
The plan is to equip seven general hospitals and five primary health-care centers with eHealth Nigeria's "Instant EMR." Instant EMR is an electronic medical records system that can be rapidly deployed to manage patient information, streamline clinical procedures, and provide data and analysis of health program outcomes.
An American Student, Evelyn Castle, had received a $10,000 public service scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation which awarded the scholarship to fund her engagement with this project. Her Q&A is quite interesting and is published on her school's website here.
Q: How would you describe the health care system in Nigeria?
A. Countrywide, it is one of the worst in the world....
Q: What was the state of the records system when you first spent time in Nigeria?
A: The funny thing is, Nigerians record everything on paper.Everything is written down, but once it is written down it is not used....
Q: What is the biggest challenge you will face while implementing an updated system?
A: There is very limited power there. There is very little Wi-Fi reception. The Internet and cell phone calls are very expensive....
OK, we know Nigeria is tough and the challenges for this project are obvious. They are heading back to Nigeria to implement an estimated 12 “Instant EMR” implementations and to strengthen relations with partner organizations, like Pathfinder International.
Technology is always a winner in demonstrating innovative solutions to solve problems in countries like Nigeria. While electricity and bandwidth will no doubt pose significant challenges - the biggest challenge will be for systems to work, for health professionals to find real value in them, and for Nigerians in Katsina to acquire the expertise to maintain it.
But yes - there is a lot of space in the health sector for innovative technological solutions! We need more takers!