Nigeria has commenced the use of telemedicine in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care.
The Head, Radiotherapy and Oncology Department of the National Hospital, Dr. Uchechukwu Shagaya, disclosed this on Thursday, May 25, 2023 at the launch of the Telemedicine unit in National Hospital, Abuja.
Shagaya explained that, “telemedicine is really medicine done on an IT platform”, adding that the telemedicine being launched in National Hospital was phase one, where the health care provider, a doctor could call a number and speak to another Doctor who is a specialist for 10 minutes or less.
However, “if they want all of the discussion and more detailed discussion, they can actually schedule a virtual meeting. In phase two of this we plan to actually be able to consult with patients with a phase one, healthcare provider consultation, we’re going to do trainings online”, she said.
The Expert further explained that they were going to do webinars and reach out with the help of NMA, doctors in rural areas:
“You know, oncology is more a practice that is practised in the high end, urban regions and high centres, but it doesn’t mean that the people at the rural level shouldn’t be in the same you know, they should speak the same language through telemedicine, we’ve worked in cancer care, breast cancer care particular to the rural areas.
“So those doctors will be guided and know how to build to refer patients for radiotherapy chemotherapy, we want to make the country a real tiny little village, no more a huge place”, Shagaya stated.
On his part, Director, Pfizer Biopharmaceutical Group For sub saharan Africa, Dr. Soroh Kodjo, Medical said, “we are establishing a platform where we can have telemedicine distance management of patients through doctors and patients themselves in our consultation.
“Like in the presentation, there is Phase 1 and phase 2. Phase 1 just started where doctors will review patients and give them the best treatment they need.
“Pfizer’s collaboration using the national hospital platform to bring this technology is the first in the sub region, it is in line with our goal is to reach the last patient faster.”
Highlighting some benefits of the development, he said, there were some patients that would not be able to go abroad for treatment but through this, they will be in Nigeria here and still have that expert input they need.
Kodjo stated that the country would save billions of dollars it had been spending for medical treatment abroad if it embraces Telemedicine in adding that the current cancer care procedure in the country was bedeviled by a number of challenges like late presentation of patients which telemedicine can help eliminate.
Also, National Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Cancer Committee, Dr. Samuel Otene lamented that cancer patients were worst hit during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and said telemedicine was a welcome development in the care of such patients in the country.