Diseases in Nigeria
In today’s digital age, technology has become an integral tool in Nigeria’s fight against various diseases. From improving access to health care to building health care capacity, technology has played a vital role in the effort to combat disease. Here are 10 ways technology assists in tackling diseases in Nigeria.

Tackling Diseases in Nigeria with the Help of Technology

  1. One of the major ways technology is helping to combat diseases in Nigeria is through an electronic case-based reporting system. This system allows for real-time tracking of disease cases and outbreaks, which helps detect potential outbreaks early and respond quickly. All 774 local government areas in Nigeria have implemented this system through the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTP).
  2. Technology is also helping to fight tuberculosis (TB) and HIV in Nigeria. More than 1,000 health facilities have implemented electronic medical record systems, providing data for program decision-making. A national repository of de-identified patient records for more than 1.9 million HIV patients has also emerged and more than 500 facilities have implemented systems for automated and instant transmission of viral load results to aid in the exchange of health information related to HIV.
  3. Technology has played a key role in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases by using innovative software and messaging systems. Nigeria has implemented a national software system for routine immunization along with an SMS texting system for weekly reporting in 18 states. Additionally, an electronic data management system is aiding COVID-19 vaccination efforts, allowing for more efficient tracking and distribution of vaccines.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology in the fight against disease in Nigeria. The integration of COVID-19 testing into the national laboratory network enabled the country to conduct more than 5.5 million tests between 2020 and 2022. A state response coordination mechanism has emerged, allowing for weekly virtual meetings among the 52 national rapid response teams. Additionally, digital training materials are helping to support infection prevention and control efforts among 1,000 frontline health care workers.
  5. Funmi Adewara and her company, MobiHealth International, are using digital technology to combat the pandemic. They are doing this by providing patients with access to thousands of doctors in multiple languages through a smartphone app, toll-free line or mobile, solar-powered telehealth clinic across Nigeria. Additionally, the company has launched a free telemedicine hotline in partnership with the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research to provide remote communities with COVID-19 screening and testing.
  6. Technology is also aiding in training volunteers who spread information about COVID-19 through digital media platforms such as Zoom. This allows for effective communication and dissemination of information about the virus to a wider audience, which increases public awareness and understanding of the disease.
  7. Technology is also beneficial for surveillance and response to diseases. The power of technology has greatly enhanced the speed and effectiveness of activating public health emergency operations centers in Nigeria. The country has 36 sub-national public health EOCs spread across its six geopolitical zones, all of which are connected to the National EOC.
  8. Additionally, technology is helping to improve surveillance systems for tracking and preventing infectious diseases, such as polio and measles, in Nigeria by monitoring vaccines’ side effects. In the fight against Ebola, technology has played a crucial role in early detection and response. Examples include thermal scanners at airports, mobile phone technology for reporting, and public health informatics tools for data collection and analysis, which have helped overcome challenges in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
  9. The African CDC is using technology to improve disease monitoring in Africa, including Nigeria, through Digital Disease Surveillance. This method involves tracking and monitoring illnesses and outbreaks by utilizing data from online sources such as search engines, social media and mobile phones, allowing for real-time tracking of disease spread and targeted efforts by health care professionals.
  10. Technology is helping enhance health care delivery in Nigeria by utilizing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes the utilization of ICTs to improve health care services and record keeping by implementing remote monitoring systems for patients to track their health, using advanced equipment and machinery in laboratories to better understand diseases and their causes and utilizing telemedicine and artificial intelligence.

Looking Ahead

In conclusion, technology is playing a vital role in the fight against diseases in Nigeria. From electronic case-based reporting systems to digital surveillance and telemedicine, technology is improving disease monitoring and responsiveness, enhancing health care delivery and increasing health care access for all Nigerians. The implementation of these technologies has enabled real-time tracking of disease cases, early detection of outbreaks and efficient distribution of vaccines. The use of technology has also helped to overcome challenges in the fight against diseases such as COVID-19, TB, HIV and polio. Moreover, it has greatly enhanced the speed and effectiveness of activating public health emergency operations centers. As technology continues to advance, it will become an even more important tool in the fight against diseases in Nigeria.

– Nkechi First
Photo: Flickr

working to end Lassa fever in NigeriaLassa fever is a growing epidemic for many Nigerians. The World Health Organization reports that 72 Nigerians have died from the disease while 317 others are infected. Lassa fever has also spread to 18 Nigerian states since its outbreak in January. However, many entities are working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria.

  1. ALIMA Treats Lassa Fever Patients
    In January 2018, the Alliance for International Medication Action (ALIMA) commenced a rapid emergency response to Nigeria’s Lassa fever epidemic. ALIMA also supported the rehabilitation of a 38-bed treatment center for patients in Owo.
    “The goal is to catch cases early, and improve the chances of survival for those who become infected,” said Guillaume Le Duc, ALIMA’s Lassa fever coordinator.
  2. The Cross River’s Sensitization Against Lassa Fever
    On Jan. 30, 2018, Nigeria’s Cross River state increased its sensitization and awareness campaign against Lassa fever, hoping to prevent further outbreaks of the disease. Dr. Inyang Asibong, Cross River’s commissioner for health, said the campaign was necessary since two cases of Lassa fever were recorded from migrants who entered Cross River. Asibong also gave nose masks, disposable gowns, gloves and other protective equipment to the state’s health workers.
  3. Gombe’s Investment to Prevent Lassa Fever
    On Jan. 31, 2018, Nigeria’s Gombe state earmarked ₦20 million for preventing the outbreak of Lassa fever to its people. Dr. Kennedy Ishaya, Gombe’s state commissioner for health, said the funds were part of the amount set aside for Gombe’s Rapid Response Committee (RRC). Gombe’s RRC will use the money to protect the state’s people from Lassa fever and other diseases.
  4. Hand Washing Helps Prevent Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 5, 2018, UNICEF and the Imo state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) sensitized Nigerians on how handwashing can prevent Lassa fever.
    “Medical reports have it that the simple act of washing hands constantly with soap can reduce infections by 50 percent,” said Nkechi Okorocha, wife of the Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha. Chika Edom, the RUWASSA program manager, said that hand washing is part of UNICEF’s initiative to keep Nigeria’s people alive and healthy.
  5. Nigeria’s Proposal for a More Established CDC
    On Feb. 8, 2018, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) asked the National Assembly to pass a bill that would financially help the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (CDC) treat Lassa fever cases. Dr. Mike Ogirima, the NMA president, was displeased from poorly-equipped ambulances transferring Lassa fever patients to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo. Though the bill went through first and second readings at the house level, it has yet to be passed into law.
  6. The World Health Organization Works to Contain Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 20, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria. The WHO deployed staff to support Nigeria’s government agencies. The WHO’s representatives are also helping rapid response teams contain Lassa fever in the Ondo, Ebonyi and Edo states.
  7. Redeemer University Could Eliminate Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 20, 2018, Redeemer University revealed its capacity to contain and eliminate Lassa fever through research activities.
    “We are behind the scene, providing solutions to Lassa fever in the country,” said Debo Adeyewa, the university’s vice-chancellor. Adeyewa also revealed that the Lassa fever outbreak was being managed at the Edo state’s Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
  8. Governor Obaseki’s Work to Contain Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 22, 2018, Governor Godwin Obaseki said that no case of Lassa fever had been reported at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital for the past two weeks. Governor Obaseki’s administration purchased and deployed equipment to the hospital and is working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria.
    “That no death has been recorded since our intervention goes to show that we read the signs correctly, mobilized skilled manpower and tackled the challenge head-on,” said Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki’s special adviser on media and communication strategy.
  9. The U.K.’s Work for Nigeria
    On Feb. 27, 2018, the U.K. sent two epidemiologists, a logistician and other experts to help Nigeria contain its Lassa fever outbreak. The U.K.’s public health rapid support team will also provide Nigeria with research assistance.
    “Viruses like Lassa Fever do not respect borders, and it is only right that we share our expertise with countries facing serious outbreaks around the world,” said Public Health Minister Steve Brine.

While many Nigerians continue to be infected with Lassa fever, efforts to treat and save patients’ lives will not stop. The World Health Organization, the U.K. and other entities are working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria and could inspire more parties to help. Supplying the country’s hospitals with necessary medical equipment to treat patients will also play a role in helping Nigeria control Lassa fever and other diseases.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr