In Nigeria, the ratio of healthcare workers to citizens rests at 1.95 per 1,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. The unequal distribution and inadequate production of such workers create systematic challenges for healthcare in Nigeria.
One possible solution shortly, as put forward by Vodacom, is the Internet of Things (IoT). Vodacom is a communication company based in Africa and majority owned by Vodafone, one of the largest communication companies in the world. Kaduna, one of Nigeria’s 36 states, has recently partnered with Vodacom to launch a state-wide technology based healthcare system called SMS for Life 2.0.
This technology-based system is grounded in the Internet of Things, or the idea that “anything that can be connected, will be connected.” Technology is moving towards a future in which any given device can have a switch to the internet or other devices, including items like lamps, washing machines and other devices that historically have nothing to do with communication. The idea is that there will be increased opportunity for efficiency, productivity and safety.
What this looks like about healthcare in Nigeria, specifically the state of Kaduna, is more than 250 facilities currently using this digital form of healthcare with plans to implement it throughout the rest of the country, especially due to increasing chronic illnesses. Vodacom’s future goals include making essential medicines more available to citizens and more efficient healthcare delivery.
Lanre Kolade, managing director of Vodacom Business Nigeria, says, “IoT can be used to increase access to healthcare by extending the scope of care services to rural and hard-to-reach areas and ensuring that essential medicines are available where and when they are needed. This technology is powering connected medical services that enable healthcare professionals to diagnose and consult with patients and first responders remotely, no matter where they are.”
While systems implementing this idea of the Internet of Things allow for endless connections, it also includes challenges that society will have to wade through, such as security and privacy. The boundaries between helping people and monitoring their every move have yet to get explored.
– Ellen Ray