Innovations for improved access to healthcare services most needed – Ihekweazu

Innovations for improved access to healthcare services have become highly needed.

Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, made the assertion at the 2020 edition of the Future of Health Conference, on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Future of Health Conference 2020 is focused on generating solutions aimed at improving healthcare access for every Nigerian.

The conference had the theme, “Innovation: Improving Health and Scaling Up Healthcare Access”.

According to Ihekweazu, WHO Health Innovation Group described innovation in healthcare as developing new or improved health policies, systems, products and technologies, services and delivery methods that improve people’s health.

She spoke on “Innovations in Healthcare and Why We Should Care Now”.

“Now more than ever, the need for innovation for improved access to healthcare could be at its most critical,” she said.

Ihekweazu noted that the year 2020 had recorded unprecedented upheaval in every sector of most countries, including Nigeria.

She said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying panic implied that healthcare should be prioritised by governments, corporations, groups and individuals.

“The upheaval has also produced unique innovations that Nigeria’s health space may otherwise not have seen in the near future.

“Innovations in health have enabled the development of health products and services that have the goal of improving health outcomes for underserved patients.

“Ultimately, in the context of the sustainable development goals, hinged on leaving no one behind, innovation can enable more equitable access to healthcare, ensure no one is denied access to life-saving healthcare as a result of their locations, social and financial statuses, or even disability,” she said.

The managing director said that initiatives geared toward removing potential barriers to quality healthcare for every Nigerian could be regarded as healthcare innovations.

“Such innovations can help to remove financial barriers through inclusive financing models, ensuring healthcare services reach the last mile through strengthening of primary healthcare.

“Innovations in health also focus on ensuring that people living with disabilities have access to needed healthcare services.

“Such innovations can also address the root causes of high maternal and child mortality rates while tackling logistics and supply chain challenges that impact the health sector.

“Innovations in healthcare are important for every part of the healthcare ecosystem, and creating maximum impact will require coordinated effort and collaboration across the various stakeholders,” she said.

Ihekweazu said that the conference examined innovations in healthcare that would meet the unique needs of patients in the country by exploring a wide range of solutions and innovations in three critical areas that could transform health services, products and service delivery.

She said that tackling a global pandemic caused by a new virus had led to an explosion of innovation in every sector of the world.

“Some of these innovations were working to improve quality of healthcare services and access in the midst of these unprecedented times.

“Epidemic preparedness, maternal health and access to primary healthcare are major and interlinked indices used to measure a country’s health performance.

“Beyond the numbers, these are areas where poor service delivery grossly affects health outcomes, especially for vulnerable and hard-to-reach members of the community.

She said that there was the need for Nigeria to strengthen healthcare service delivery in the frontiers during and after the pandemic.

She noted that Health conferences provided a platform where challenges in Nigeria’s health sector were critically discussed and pathways for change articulated. (NAN)