By Deborah Theobald - Co-Founder of Vecna Technologies and and Emily Ellison Taylor - Vecna Cares Charitable Trust
As ICT industry leaders from around Nigeria and West Africa gather in Lagos in September for Nigeria Com 2016, there is an important conversation happening around how investment in ICT networks and strengthening digital networks in the country could spur economic growth. Just recently, AllAfrica reported that the leader of the Nigerian software company SystemSpecs has “urged the federal government to refocus its attention on information communication technology for speedy economic growth in light of dwindling oil prices on the international market.”
Advanced wireless technologies can help stakeholders realise social benefits
Indeed, the opportunity to leverage the booming ICT industry for economic development in Nigeria is important and deserves sustained and focused investment. But, there is another equally compelling way that investments in ICT infrastructure and markets can impact Nigeria: advanced wireless technologies can help stakeholders realise social benefits.
Specifically, investment in extending robust and reliable wireless networks to rural Nigeria, paired with equipping frontline health workers with the necessary hardware components (smart phones, tablets) will permit better quality data collection and records keeping. The extended wireless coverage will allow data from disparate geographies to be aggregated in a cloud based database, allowing more exhaustive and nuanced analysis of data on human resources for health, health care utilisation rates, healthcare spending and health outcomes. Access to this information will help with better, data-driven decision making at all levels of the Nigerian health sector.
The program...put[s] actionable data in the hands of policy and decision makers in less time than the previous paper-based process
As an example, let’s examine the structure, inputs and outcomes of a current program deploying advanced wireless technologies. Together, Vecna Cares and InStrat Global Health Solutions have been working in Nigeria on the CliniPAK360 program since 2013. To date, CliniPAK360 has been deployed to 51 facilities in four states throughout Nigeria and will reach 100 Primary Health Care centers by the end of 2016 in six states. This program puts Android tablets in the hands of healthcare workers to capture data at the point of care and CliniPAK360 employs advanced wireless technology to assist healthcare workers in capturing key data elements during every patient encounter. The program aggregates patient data in real time and accelerates the reporting process at the facility and state level, putting actionable data in the hands of policy and decision makers in less time than the previous paper-based process. This leads to a better and more timely understanding of the health burden, improved connection between the state and local health resources, and a consistent quality of care with each patient interaction. These advantages help facilities become more efficient and make clinicians more effective, helping to drive down the number of maternal and infant deaths. Lives are saved and costs are contained.
The project operates with a grant from Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, which implements programs in five areas: health care, education, entrepreneurship, public safety, and the environment. Important, strategic, and well-defined, each of these can, and does benefit greatly from the introduction of advanced wireless technology as a well-suited solution to development issues.
We encourage the attendees at Nigeria Com to engage in inter-sectoral and collaborative conversations, recognizing the many ways improved ICT infrastructure can propel Nigeria forward. We look forward to participating in these conversations!
Deborah Theobald, the Co-Founder of Vecna Technologies and the Executive Director of Vecna Cares, will be speaking on day 1 of Nigeria Com on: Understanding the value-chain of connectivity for improving healthier lives and societies in Nigeria.
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