Mobile technology continues to transform the face of health care delivery across the globe. The internet, smartphones and other associated phenomena have permeated lives across the world, particularly Africa.
Mobile technology is the future of health care in Africa, and Nigeria’s eradication of the Ebola virus in 2014 is a clear indication that Mobile technology is capable of changing the landscape of health care delivery across the globe.
In the world today, nearly everything from your smartphone to patients’ hospital records creates data. Medical treatments can now be personalised, allowing for rapid identification and control of infectious disease outbreaks.
Nigeria’s former minister of Information Communication and Technology, Omobola Johnson, at the International Telecommunications Union ITU 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) held in Busan, Republic of Korea, said technology played crucial roles in the successful containment of Ebola virus disease (EDV) in Nigeria.
According to the former minister, the combination of the internet and mobile cellular phones has opened up tremendous opportunities for countries in Africa, particularly Nigeria.
“The steep increase in mobile use is driven by a number of factors, particularly, the additional ways in which mobile phones are being used in Nigeria,” Johnson said.
Reports by PwC last year had predicted that the Internet will be a key driver for the Nigerian economy, where the number of mobile Internet subscribers is forecast to surge from 7.7 million in 2013 to 50.4 million in 2018.
An existing health surveillance system for Polio for contact tracing was put into use, enabling health workers to trace and isolate Sawyer’s primary and secondary contacts quickly. Mobile technology meant live updates could be made to the contact list.
E-Health Technologies actually fills up the gaps in Nigeria’s deteriorating health care system and could be the future of health care in the country.
While a meteoric growth of apps is expected transpire quickly, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, apps are the fuel that is driving mobile’s growth and where most of the Smartphone’s utility comes from in developed economies.
E-Health-focused Nigerian tech start-up Mobile Software Solutions emerged winner of the Best Mobile Software Solution in Africa 2014 at the World Summit Award (WSA).
The start-up was selected out of over 400 other solutions from across the continent, having initially won the Best Mobile App (Game) of the year award at Mobile West Africa Conference held in Lagos Nigeria.
The fuel driving mobile’s huge growth is primarily app usage. An android app designed to facilitate the spread of information during the EVD outbreak in Nigeria is said to have reduced reporting times for new Ebola cases by half initially, and then by 75 percent before becoming almost real-time.
In addition, test results were scanned to tablets and uploaded to emergency databases and field teams got text message alerts on their phones informing them of the results.
On metrics of human health, Nigeria falls far short of the United Nations’ Millennium Developmentand lags behind other developing economies that spend a similar proportion of GDP in these areas.
For example, public spending on health care amounts to $29 per capita in purchasing power parity terms, yet 127 of every 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday.
Senegal and Sudan spend similar amounts per capita on health care, yet the child mortality rate is 60 per 1,000 in Senegal and 73 per 1,000 in Sudan.
For Nigeria to achieve the upside potential for growth in the health sector, the government will need to play a central role.
There is much scope for advancement in Nigeria’s healthcare sector. Innovations in mobile and information and communication technology can address many of the challenges faced today.