Doctors abroad to begin treatment of Edo residents through telemedicine as Gov Obaseki fixes program launch date

Doctors abroad to begin treatment of Edo residents through telemedicine as Gov Obaseki fixes program launch date

As part of plans to provide quality healthcare to citizens, the Edo State government said it would launch the telemedicine services in the state on Tuesday, June 7, to enable indigent persons to have unfettered and improved access to medical professionals.

Obehi Akoria, Edo State Commissioner for health disclosed to journalists on Saturday during a facility tour of one of the telemedicine centres at Oredo primary healthcare centre in Benin City.

Akoria said the e-health services would make use of technology so that doctors in the United States of America can deliver medical care to patients attending primary healthcare centers far off.

She explained that the initiation of the program was to provide accessible and quality healthcare services to Edo residents and indigenes at no cost.

The commissioner, who said telemedicine is geared to service various categories of medical care needs in the state, noted that over 20 patients had so far benefited since it commence Saturday, May 28.

“There will be an official launch of this program on Tuesday. The launch is to tell the world that it has been tested and proven that it is possible. We have people who have benefited from it. On that Tuesday, our partners from the United States of America will be physically on ground.

“The services involves consultation of our doctors in the United States of America. Doctors abroad sit in their offices and we schedule patients for them to see. The doctors in America will be on the screen, talking to the patients in Benin, asking questions, making decisions, at the end, write prescriptions and the patients go home with their medicines which is free.

“If after examination and it requires surgery, the patients will be arranged in batches and the surgeons will be booked to come from USA to conduct the surgery in Nigeria. This is a win-win situation for everybody.

“Last Saturday, we saw 12 patients and that has been going on like this since. This is something we intend to strengthen. The first phase was the proof of concept phase. We have passed that stage, it is working seamlessly. We are at the pilot phase and we need to strengthen it. The next phase is for us to scale, and it will be outside Benin so that over time, we can go outside,” Akoria said.

“Now, we are scaling, we are using this place for now. We are moving to Ugbor Primary Healthcare Centre and from there, we will gradually scale to other places. If there is a problem in Auchi or Ibilo, the same way somebody stays in America and talks to patients in Benin and sorts out a problem, it will also be the same done for patients in Auchi. They don’t have to travel on the road, risk their lives because the technology is there. This is about deploying the internet to deliver healthcare.

“As it is right now, this is being done on a purely volunteer basis, a free service courtesy of the government of Edo State. The government is investing in the hardware, computers, Internet, and solar panels required for this job. As this thing goes, it will be a whole department on its own, where we will now have to employ dedicated staff who will be troubleshooting across the state, helping us solve issues by deploying technology,” she added.

BusinessDay reports that the Edo State government in collaboration with the Association of Nigerian Physicians in America (ANPA) had recently organized a five-day free medical outreach, including specialized healthcare services and surgical interventions, for over 4,000 residents in the state.

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