An NGO, eHealth Africa, has called for the integration of digital solutions to battle health emergencies and vaccinations especially in hard-to-reach communities in Nigeria.
The Executive Director, ehealth, Atef Fawaz made the call during the 2023 Insight Learning Forum with theme :”Digital Innovations in Public Health Practice: Lessons and Impact organised by the NGO in Abuja.
“We all know the challenges in the whole nation when it comes to logistics, especially in very remote areas, so the solution was developed to make sure that vaccines can reach everywhere, at the same time the solution focused a lot on accountability and transparency.
“With the solution everyone can see the point where the vaccines are picked up from and where they are delivered. It is a full system that allows monitoring of stocks, request of new stocks, and making sure that vaccines are delivered to very remote areas.
“ehealth proved that by running the project in Kano Bauchi, Zamfara. We are currently running same in Sokoto state to deliver to basically all the health facilities.
“This has been quite effective and has reduced stock outs to a bare minimum number.
“The impact of the digital solutions reveals that more than nine million doses of vaccines have been delivered in Bauchi ,Zamfara, Kano with Sokoto still ongoing ,a feat that had never been achieved.”
Fawaz however, said that insecurity and bad road network remained a major challenge to the organisation.
This, he said, has direct impact on everyone’s health, especially children that are from zero to five and need to get their routine immunisation.
Also speaking, Mr Jamil Galadanci, Senior Manager, Software Engineering of the Global Health Informatics Units in the NGO said the organisation invented a Logistics Management Information System (LoMIS) to address supply chain challenges especially in hard-to-reach areas.
Galadanci said LoMIS is targeted at addressing the challenges Nigerian healthcare system face in ensuring the availability of life-saving commodities and meeting national supply chain reliability goals.
“At some point, Nigeria was reported as the highest zero dose children country in the world that is the reason we invented the LoMIS to improve the delivery and management of vaccines in our health facilities.
“It is also aimed at providing a near real time visibility of what is happening across those facilities, which in turn would improve accountability, transparency and most importantly, the efficiency of how we manage those facilities.
“This is with the hope of improving the availability of those stocks in those health facilities which consequently would reduce the percentage of from zero dose children in the country.
Galadanci said that ehealth was able to make it easy for parents and the population to access drugs and it reduced the burden which in turn motivated the children and their parents to actually participate in the vaccine.
“So in general, I will say there is clearly a very high improvement. We recorded an 86 per cent improvement in the zero doses as compared to when we started the LoMIS,’’he said
According to Mr Murtala Bello, Director of pharmaceutical services, the meeting is important because it is a learning forum where stakeholders hear from people who have been implementing different digital solutions towards improving healthcare delivery in the country.
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Bello who is also the state Logistics Officer, Primary Health Care Development Agency in Sokoto, said the state partnered with ehealth Africa to deliver vaccines to health facilities using the LOMIS digital solutions.
“Currently, the software we are using in the state, is helping us to deliver vaccines to our facilities, we were having challenges of ensuring availability of these vaccines at the health facilities.
“However, with the partnership that we have with ehealth, they now make deliveries and as they make the deliveries, they also capture real time information.
“So we are able to monitor the deliveries. We are also able to strengthen the capacity of the facility staff in the management of the vaccines.
“So with the partnership, we have seen a lot of progress in terms of reduction in the stock out of these vaccines in our health facilities, improved availability of tools, and also improved capacity of staff to be able to manage this vaccine as well as harness information that is transmitted real time at the state level.’’
Bello said since the delivery and the use of digital solutions have improved delivery, it has also improved availability of these vaccines and therefore, improved accessibility and increased immunisation coverage in the state.
He said the meeting would present stakeholders with additional digital health solutions from other people so as to pick their interest to effectively utilise it to solve healthcare delivery service challenges. (NAN)