By Lexi Elo
Nigeria would require about $51 billion (10 times of public health expenditure in 2012) to leapfrog and catch up with more advanced health systems in developed economies including Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries by 2030, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF)and Boston Consulting Group, the globe’s leading advisor on business strategy report.
While healthcare systems of Nigeria, including emerging economies, struggle to satisfy demand for basic health services, reduce the incidence of preventable communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, etc. and cost of developing their health systems, Nigeria would need over 700,000 additional doctors to reach OECD levels by
2030, the report stated.
With the drivers of demand and supply for health services in emerging economies are more complex and diverse than in developed economies, poor basic health combine with violence and environmental factors in Nigeria to create strong demand for medicare at the same time that weak infrastructure and delivery systems limit supply.
According to the report “Nigeria currently has roughly 14 percent of the number of doctors per capita of OECD countries. To catch up, Nigeria would need approximately 12 times as many doctors by 2030, requiring, under current training models, about $51 billion (or 10 times current annual Nigerian public health spending).
“Many emerging economies face escalating incidence of non-communicable diseases driven by aging populations and unhealthy lifestyles. Emerging economies have under-invested in health. In 2012, their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocation for health was on average 5.6 percent, less than half that of developed economies (12.5 percent).
This has led to shortages in health infrastructure and workforce,” the report stated.
In the wake of daunting health challenges facing the country, experts say that the deployment of technology and innovation remains critical in breaking barriers to assess medical care and help solve health problems facing millions of Nigerians.
Olajide Adebola, President, Society for Telemedicine and eHealth in Nigeria, disclosed that deployment of electronic health (eHealth tools) would provide efficient and cost effective healthcare services for people in remote areas, through early diagnostics, logistics and supplies, as well as help individuals to make informed decisions about
According to Adebola, “Nigeria needs a comprehensive situational analysis of the implementation of telemedicine and eHealth initiatives should be undertaken to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the current efforts. The eHealth strategy should address local needs and should involve locally driven solutions.”
Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, CEO, Private Health Sector Alliance, a private sector coalition aimed at accelerating progress in Nigeria’s healthcare system, explained that some African countries have been able to accelerate improve health outcomes through technology deployment and innovation.
According to Uar-Sadiq, “f technology and innovation in healthcare delivery in Africa reveal that in Ethiopia, 30,000 health workers were trained and deployed to provide Primary HealthCare (PHC) services through smartphone health apps. Also, Infant mortality rates reduced from 17 percent in 2000 to 6.8 percent in 2012.
“In Malawi, Rapid SMS platform was developed to provide feedback on data and enabling public health workers to respond quickly to trends in malnutrition. Its impact showed reduced delay in data transmission and improved surveillance as infant mortality rates declined from dropped from 11.2 percent in 2010 to 7.1 percent in 2012.”
A peep into improving health outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa reveal that communications technologies provide emerging economies with the tools to create comprehensive, up-to-date, integrated and user-friendly health information systems. However, additional momentum to build such information systems comes from the need to prevent and manage the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases in emerging economies.
For instance, PATH, the global health NGO, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working to improve access to immunisation by harnessing data. The Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative aims to help emerging economies improve their collection and management of vaccine stock, supply chain (including cold chain
management) data as well as birth and vaccination registration data.
However, most of the cost of vaccination comes from the supply chain and administration.
With significant changes within specific components of the health system, such as task shifting within the workforce, revamping vaccine supply chains or leveraging innovation in medical diagnostics, health experts believe that healthcare delivery within emerging markets remains achievable.