Novartis and the Lagos State Ministry of Health have announced plans to collaborate on the introduction of eHealth for Africa, an updated version of the acclaimed SMS for Life system, in all public health facilities in the state.
The announcement was made when a delegation of Novartis top officials paid a courtesy visit to the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Alausa, recently.
eHealth for Africa, the tablet-based system is expected to provide timely online information on the stock levels of 18 critical medical products and 16 disease surveillance indicators, covering multiple disease areas including malaria, HIV, measles, yellow fever and cholera. This, according to the facilitators, is to ensure that essential antimalarial treatments and other critical medicines are available where and when needed, and also to help strengthen the health system in the country.
Speaking during the visit, Rainer Boehm, Novartis president for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and African countries, said,”Africa is still disproportionately affected by infectious diseases that put a significant burden on developing economies, with life expectancy 15 years less than the global average.” He added that “In supporting the implementation of eHealth For Africa in Nigeria,Novartis remains committed to fighting the battle against malaria and other infectious diseases and improving the lives of patients in other countries across Africa, as well.”
SMS for Life was originally introduced in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, DRC and Cameroon as a mobile phone-based system to improve access to essential antimalarials in rural health facilities. The new enhanced version will use tablet computers at all public health facilities to provide a two-way system of stock identification and disease surveillance data, together with training in disease management for healthcare professionals.
Also speaking during the visit, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said, “Using technology to track and secure the availability of vital medicines with respect to a health system that serves a 21-million population is an exciting development. Through eHealth For Africa, we look forward to improving access to quality medicines for all patients in Lagos, and by extension Nigeria;as well as helping our own healthcare teams to learn more about the management of deadly infectious diseases.”
eHealth For Africa is expected to be implemented in all public primary health care facilities in the 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos State. It aims at bringing online visibility to stock levels of test kits and medicines for malaria and the prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) of HIV; enhancing the stock level visibility of routine childhood vaccines; ensuring weekly epidemic tracking of 7 critical diseases; and providing high quality training for health workers via tablet computers.