By Doris Obinna
A survey has revealed that about 36 per cent of Nigerian feel their healthcare needs are being met, even as it highlights a discrepancy between the healthcare expectations of Nigerians and the reality.
According to survey by Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, aimed at understanding what the ‘Future of Health’ might look like in Nigeria and any associated challenges, 52 per cent of over 500 Nigerians interviewed trust the healthcare system. Thirty-six per cent feel their healthcare needs are being met.
Commenting on the findings, Chief Executive Officer of Philips Africa, Jasper Westerink, said: “This study highlights the need for a greater focus on preventive healthcare for a sustainable health system, especially given the prevalence of lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“The results also reinforce the need for the national government to invest a significant percentage of its healthcare budget towards medical research, preventive care, acute care and general health education. This also suggests that more personalised consultations, more first-time right diagnosis, and timely treatments from healthcare professionals (HCPs) will further help reduce the burden on the healthcare industry in the country.”
Continuing Westerink said: “With these findings as a guiding light, we are engaging with all relevant stakeholders to drive the debate and ultimately improve the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare services for future generations. We believe that sustainable healthcare development requires a system-wide approach, combining technology, capacity-building including training, service and maintenance, as well as long-term financing. To that end, we aim to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare across the country and compliment significant efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s growing health sector.”
Other key findings include: Nigerians feel the national government should be deploying an equal proportion of its healthcare budget toward “sick care” (49 per cent) and on preventive measures (48 per cent).
Also, a majority (65 per cent) of Nigerians believe improved access to health facilities would make them more effective in managing their health, followed by keeping track of health indicators (52 per cent), and access to more information about health, nutrition and fitness (48 per cent). Eighty-two per cent believe that the National Health Insurance will have a positive impact on patient outcomes over time.
Among those who have ever seen a healthcare professional, most (64 per cent) are confident in their healthcare professionals’ understanding of connected care technology.
Looking to the future, Westerink said consumers are increasingly expecting to use digital technologies to control when, where and how they receive care services.
He said: “By harnessing digital technologies in this way, the healthcare sector will increasingly be able to empower human judgment, free up clinician time and personalise care services to put control in the hands of patients.
“In order to increase the likelihood of connected care technology being used, training opportunities, informational resources such as databases of available technologies, and government subsidies to manage cost concerns, may be needed to improve health systems at a tertiary level.
“Conversely, digitisation could additionally offer a breakthrough opportunity to improve the healthcare need of the Nigerian population by breaking down traditional cost structures. By connecting patients, and care providers with public health workers via mobile telecommunications on available cellular networks, we can fill critical gaps in primary care and have a lower cost base at the primary level of intervention.”
These findings further indicate that there is significant room for growth if investment is made towards the sector.
Although there are good medical doctors in Nigeria, there is also a need to develop new ways of delivering healthcare like telemedicine for instance, says Westerink.