Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday commended the Abia State Government for its initiative in the health sector by establishing “Abia Telehealth”.
Osinbajo gave the commendation while inaugurating the project code-named as “Dial-a-Doctor” and described it as a commendable effort in the healthcare delivery system in the state.
The inauguration was held at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia.
He said that Abia had blazed the trail in the utilisation of Global System of Mobile Telecommunication (GSM) in the delivery of quality healthcare to the people of the state.
“This is an especially exciting project because it is leveraging on available technology, in this case, the mobile phone to deliver affordable healthcare to the people,” he said.
The VP further remarked that it had become expedient in Nigeria to embrace technology to close the healthcare gap between the urban and rural areas.
He said that available records showed that Abia had about 1.5 million mobile phones.
“The state has taken the lead in utilising the potential that mobile phone has as a means for delivering healthcare for the people.
“I am told that citizens can through a dedicated telephone line and affordable prepaid cards access medical care through a statewide network of doctors and communicate.
“The initiative would cut the time spent travelling to see a doctor or waiting in line to see a doctor in a healthcare facility.
“It will make Abia stand out in the healthcare delivery as a people-centred state that is open to life-changing innovation.
“This is a very commendable initiative,” Osinbajo said.
He, however, pointed out that the success of the programme would depend on the willingness of stakeholders to take on feedback and make the adjustments necessary to meet the evolving needs of the target beneficiaries.
According to him, this initiative will be helpful to the state and other states that would want to copy it.
Osinbajo said that the Federal Government had given out loans to over 7,500 small businesses in the state.
“In the healthcare sector, we have the save-one-million lives programme, which has made available $1.5 million to each state to improve the quality of basic healthcare, especially to women and children,” he said.
He assured Abia government of the commitment of the federal government to continue to partner and collaborate on any programmes designed to better the lives of the people.
In his speech, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu described the programme as “a dream come true,” saying that the initiative was the future of healthcare delivery in Nigeria and Africa.
Ikpeazu said that the state government would leverage on the programme to improve life expectancy in Abia and surpass the average national life expectancy.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, commended the state government for the initiative.
The minister, who was represented by the Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Dr Chuku Abali, said that the programme had the potential to make healthcare accessible to millions of Abia residents if properly harnessed.