Nigeria inaugurates national e-Health committee

Gloria Essien, Abuja.

Nigeria's Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole

A National e-Health steering committee has been inaugurated by the Nigerian Minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole.

He explained in Abuja, that factoring ICT into healthcare was a giant step towards Nigeria joining the world in attaining universal health coverage.

The minister noted that the Nigerian health sector faced daunting challenges, ranging from data collection and management, human resources to the issues of attaining universal health coverage.

“The National e-Health strategy provides an over-arching guide to harmonizing and focusing ICT interventions – in health – along government priorities and towards the achievement of these priorities.

However, we must note that the eHealth strategy in itself is not the culmination of the work; but the inception of a new chapter in the process, which will now involve rallying resources towards a unified implementation of this strategic plan,” the minister pointed out.

Prof. Adewole also said that the inauguration was to formalize the National eHealth governance structure to coordinate, guide and monitor its implementation including setting rules, policies, guidelines and standards to guide stakeholders.

He noted that the governance structure was made up of a steering committee, a technical committee and a project Management Office.

“The steering committee will provide strategic leadership and direction. The technical committee will provide technical inputs towards implementation. Finally, the project Management Office which will be domiciled within the ICT Department- has responsibility for the daily operations and provides necessary secretariat services,” he added.

The minister charged all involved to work together and justify the trust Nigeria had reposed in them.

Prof Adewole said that it was heart warming that Nigeria was joining the rest of the world to embrace e-health as the benefits were enormous.

On his part,  the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu stated that the committee was set up to accelerate efforts to improve health outcomes and strengthen the health system through the use of ICT.

He added that “the National e-health Strategic Framework provides a vision and guide for alignment of current investments in technology within the health sector towards a digitized health system that will help Nigeria achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2020.”

He also said that this framework was to ensure that the vision and other components were met, and requested the cooperation of all members.

The communications minister said “having identified ICT as a key enabler, the initiative was geared towards accelerating efforts to improve health outcomes and strengthening the health system by levering on greater access and use of mobile and related information and communication technologies”.

The National e-Health steering committee is made up of staff from the Ministry of Health and that of Communications. They are expected to combine efforts geared at improving health outcomes and strengthen the health system in the country.