Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President Thursday inaugurated the Abia Tele-health initiative, otherwise known as “Dial-a-doctor, describing it as a commendable effort in the healthcare delivery system in the state.
Speaking at the event held at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia, Osinbajo said that Abia had blazed the trail in the utilisation of Global System of Mobile Telecommunication (GSM) in the delivery of quality healthcare to the people of the state.
He said, “This is an especially exciting project because it is leveraging on available technology, in this case, the mobile phone to deliver affordable healthcare to the people.”
He said that it had become expedient in Nigeria to embrace technology to close the healthcare gap between the urban and rural areas.
Osinbajo said that avalaible records showed that Abia had about 1.5 million mobile phones.
According to him, the state has taken “the lead in utilising the potential that mobile phone has as a means for delivering healthcare for the people.”
“I am told that citizens can through a dedicated telephone line and affordable prepaid cards access medical care through a statewide network of doctors and communicate.
“The initiative would cut the time spent travelling to see a doctor or waiting in line to see a doctor in a healthcare facility.
“It will make Abia stand out in the healthcare delivery as a people-centered state that is open to life-changing innovation.
“This is a very commendable initiative,” Osinbajo said.
He, however, said that the success of the programme would depend on the willingness of stakeholders to take on feedback and make the adjustments necessary to meet the evolving needs of the target beneficiaries.
According to the Vice President, this initiative would be helpful to the state and other states that would want to copy it.
In his speech, Okezie Ikpeazu, the Abia state governor described the programme as “a dream come true,” saying “the initiative is the future of healthcare delivery in Nigeria and Africa.”
Ikpeazu said that the state government would leverage on the programme not only to improve life expectancy in Abia but surpass the average national life expectancy.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, commended the state government for the initiative.
Adewole, who was represented by the Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Dr. Chuku Abali, said that the programme had the potential to make healthcare accessible to millions of Abia residents, if properly harnessed.
John Ahukanna, the state commissioner for health, said that the programme would make it possible for people to dial a dedicated GSM number and get medical attention from a doctor in the comfort of their homes.