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Lagos State Government Launches Telehealth Initiative to Improve Rural Healthcare Access

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Lagos State, Nigeria – The Lagos State Government has unveiled its ambitious plan to establish a telehealth model, aimed at improving primary healthcare access for rural communities across the state. The initiative, known as ‘EKOTELEMED,’ was initially introduced in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and successfully provided essential healthcare services while minimizing the risk of contagiousness for residents and medical personnel.

Speaking at the kick-off of the implementation research held at Sojourner Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, highlighted the significance of health in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s ‘THEMES PLUS’ agenda. He emphasized the state government’s commitment to delivering affordable, efficient, and equitable healthcare services to all residents.

Dr. Ogboye, represented by Dr. Olufunmilayo Shokunbi, the Director of Medical Administration and Training at the Ministry of Health, acknowledged the state government’s efforts in bolstering public healthcare facilities, recruiting healthcare professionals, and investing in healthcare infrastructure at the primary and secondary levels. These measures aim to enhance the supply side of the healthcare industry, strengthen the state’s outbreak response capacity, and reduce the reliance on medical tourism.

“As we embark on a mission to explore, evaluate, and implement telehealth solutions that will transform the way we deliver healthcare, I urge everyone to share knowledge, exchange best practices, and develop innovative strategies to drive the successful implementation of telehealth across the state,” stated Dr. Ogboye.

To oversee the first implementation research and explore the potential of Equitable Digital-First care, Dr. Ogboye inaugurated a 10-member Committee. This committee will play a crucial role in evaluating telehealth capabilities and guiding future efforts. Led by Dr. Emmanuella Zamba, the General Manager of the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), the committee includes prominent members such as Dr. Dayo Olajide from the Ministry of Health, Mr. Olukunle Daramola representing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Obinna Ukachuckwu from Sterling Bank, Prof. Ololade Wright from Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Mr. Onimole Mobolaji from the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, and Mr. Peter Olowu from the Lagos State Bureau of Statistics.

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In her welcome address, Dr. Emmanuella Zamba expressed optimism about telehealth’s potential to bridge accessibility gaps, remove geographical barriers, and ensure positive patient outcomes in an era of rapid technological advancements. She highlighted the remarkable progress made by EKOTELEMED since its launch, underscoring the enormous potential of telehealth in connecting patients with healthcare professionals.

Dr. Zamba further revealed that LASHMA has secured funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and will receive technical support from the Solina Centre for International Development and Research, as well as Village Reach. LASHMA plans to conduct an 18-month telehealth implementation research study and integrate digital health services into the ‘ILERA EKO’ basic plan.

The telehealth model envisaged by the Lagos State Government holds great promise for revolutionizing healthcare delivery across the state. By leveraging technology, bridging gaps in access, and empowering communities, this initiative aims to transform the healthcare landscape and ensure that quality care reaches even the most remote areas of Lagos.

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