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  Nigeria’s healthcare industry is one of the largest industries in Nigeria that accounts for over 3% of the nation’s GDP. According to a report by Fitch Solutions, healthcare expenditure in Nigeria was predicted to reach NGN 5,762.061 billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 8.35% Y.O.Y.
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This is up from the estimated NGN 5,318.061 billion in 2020. In 2021, healthcare spending was estimated to make up 2.94% of the country’s GDP. Aside from this growing GDP, the surge in the rise of HealthTechs in Nigeria in the last five years has been amazing. Africa’s largest population and biggest economy have one of the fast-growing startup ecosystems that have been graced with leading digital medical startups like Safermom, Ubenwa, Mobicure, Kangpe, GenRx, Hudibia, Lifebank, Redbank, Medismart Inc., and many others. Despite the surge of HealthTech startups, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in diseases capable of affecting the nation’s population negatively. These startups and existing legacies of healthcare systems cannot cater for over 200 million Nigerians. Moreover, not enough is spent on healthcare by the government. Hence, Nigerians are faced with catering for their healthcare, which is expensive. To be clear, Nigeria suffers structural problems in its healthcare system. Therefore, I offered some strategies that can help med-techs and health-techs overcome infrastructural problems. I pointed out some infra(structural) problems and how they can navigate through them.
  • Rural-Urban Inequality

There is the structural problem of rural-urban inequality when it comes to affordable and democratization of healthcare delivery in Nigeria. While there is a great size of medical and healthcare professionals in Nigeria, over 70% of them reside and work in urban areas, leaving the rural areas underserved. The solution to meeting the needs of underserved rural communities is through the development of efficient logistics. This is vital to the health-teach industry and can help digital health startups achieve a larger adoption of their products.
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In beating supply chain challenges, med-techs and digital healthcare startups can engage in developing mobile hospitals where healthcare delivery is executed in vans. For example, medtechs, with funding gotten from VCs can acquire vans and motorcades and bicycles to penetrate rural areas.
  • Preventive Healthcare

Millions of Nigerians die of malaria and other tropical diseases before they are attended to by any medical healthcare provider. For example, due to the distance between doctors and patients, millions of sick people die before they are treated or from even wrong diagnoses due to self-treatment. Hence, rather than allowing the challenges of consulting with trained medical personnel to limit access to quality healthcare by users, med-techs can create self-treatment apps where medical professionals can offer professional consultancy to users, giving them a range of information on the holistic treatment of homoeopathy and allopathy, addressing various health and wellness-related issues, including obesity, pregnancy, women’s health and post-surgery care. Aside from designing consultancy apps to bridge the gap, healthcare providers can develop a fitness routine app where users can access multiple fitness options including yoga, dance and kickboxing. For example, med-techs can design apps that use machine language to customize a fitness program for users.
  • Emergency Interventions

The problem of logistics as well as the difficult terrain of Nigeria’s urban traffic and rural zones alienated by good roads, the problem of emergency healthcare services and delivery exists. To beat this, it is expedient that med-techs manufacture lightweight equipment for navigating through.
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For example, in India, med-tech startups are manufacturing portable equipment for calculating ECG, blood pressure, heart rate, auscultation, oxygen saturation and the temperature of a patient. After diagnosis, data are transmitted wirelessly to doctors anywhere in the world. These machines perform quick diagnostics with little medical training and rely heavily on their patented technology to work in low-bandwidth locations in far-flung corners of the country.
  • Insurance Cover

Nigerians are bedevilled with problems of healthcare insurance coverage as well as accessing affordable healthcare. Therefore, digital health startups or health techs can design tailored solutions to help users save and pay for non-emergency medical processes such as those connected to pregnancy, eye care, dental, plastic surgeries, orthopaedic, genetic testing and so on.  Building a piggybank-styled med-tech startup addresses the problem of insurance coverage. They can go about it through steps and plans. Step 1 allows prospective patients to choose a hospital of their choice and decide the amount they need to save. Step 2: prospective patients can save on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, based on their chosen plan, and then make regular payments either by online transfer or by depositing money at hospitals. Once a patient completes the savings plan, you can easily avail of the medical treatment at your selected healthcare facility without the burden of an upfront one-time payment. It is an Innovative Financial Savings Platform. Consider it an interactive piggy bank that helps you plan and save the stack of cash even before you start with the treatment.

Final Words

Despite the existing progressive tech ecosystem in Nigeria, it seems the health sector is largely unorganized compared to e-commerce, fin-tech and agro-tech. The infrastructural challenge Nigeria finds itself in requires an innovative approach. Hence, this article has offered insights into navigating these challenges. The article calls for total digitisation of the industry as well as creating portable equipment and mobile hospitals, especially for reaching underserved communities. Featured Image Source: TechEconomy
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This article was first published on 29th September 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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