Telemedicine/ Edo
Telemedicine can improve the lives of many Nigerians, especially those in rural areas.

What Nigerians Need To Know About Telemedicine By Aishat M. Abisola

In Nigeria, when it comes down to healthcare, many people are either unable to afford it or live in areas where there is no good health centre available.

This has led to the deaths of many people from health issues that could have been easily preventable.

Because of this, many Nigerians turn to alternative ways of receiving healthcare such as ritual doctors, home remedies etc.

For rural communities in Nigeria that do have a healthcare centre, their residents might not be properly taken care of for a number of reasons.

Many rural communities may end up sharing one healthcare centre which can lead to delayed or inadequate treatment for serious health conditions.

Residents from rural areas often have to travel long distances in order to reach the nearest healthcare centre which is especially problematic during emergency situations where timely medical attention is needed.

It is also difficult for people in rural areas to find specialists for specific health issues as specialist doctors and healthcare professionals usually tend to be located in urban areas.

Rural healthcare centres may not have readily available medical technologies and diagnostic tools that are advanced for more complex cases which can cause delays in accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatment plans.

They also often face a shortage of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other medical staff which leads to longer waiting times for appointments and reduced access to routine healthcare services.

Medical pharmacies that are located in rural areas may not have a wide range of medications available which means that patients might need to travel to obtain essential medications or go without them. They also might not have vaccines for easily preventable diseases.

Maternal and child health is also severely impacted by a lack of access to prenatal care and maternity services which lead to higher maternal and infant mortality rates in rural areas. Difficulties in accessing pediatric care can also negatively impact child health.

Because of this, measures need to be taken to ensure that the loss of lives in rural areas is curbed.

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One measure that can be taken is the implementation of telemedicine in rural communities.

For those who are unaware, telemedicine is a way of providing healthcare remotely usually through video chat.

Telemedicine offers patients the healthcare that they need with the use of digital devices such as computers and smartphones but can also be done via email or phone messaging.

With the use of telemedicine, doctors are able to assess whether or not the patient needs in-person treatment, offer specific types of medical care such as mental health treatment and health assessments for minor infections, and write or renew prescriptions.

Telemedicine is also useful in situations whereby the patient must practise social distancing or cannot physically go to a healthcare facility.

Benefits of telemedicine

Some other benefits of telemedicine include:

Telemedicine can lower costs by reducing the amount of time a patient has to spend in the hospital as well as transport costs

It can improve a person’s access to care in the case of disabled persons, the elderly, and people in rural areas.

Telemedicine makes it easier for people to access preventive care that can help in improving their long-term health. This is beneficial for people with financial or geographic barriers that can affect their access to quality care. Patients are required to provide detailed medical information and show the doctor any rashes, injuries, or other visible symptoms that require treatment.

It is also very convenient as you will not have to leave the comfort and privacy of your own home. This can also slow the spread of infection when you are sick.

Despite this, telemedicine might not suit every person or situation as there are some potential disadvantages to using telemedicine over traditional care methods.

Disadvantages of telemedicine

The use of telemedicine when a person needs urgent emergency care may delay treatment as a doctor cannot provide lifesaving care or laboratory tests digitally.

Technological concerns are another disadvantage as searching for the right digital platform to use can be challenging and a weak internet connection can also make it difficult to offer quality care.

Healthcare professionals rely on patient self-reports during telemedicine sessions and this requires them to ask patients more questions to ensure that they get a comprehensive health history. Treatment can also be compromised if a patient leaves out an important symptom that might have been noticeable during in-person care, this can compromise treatment.


That aside, telemedicine is useful for any condition that does not require laboratory tests or a physical examination.

When something blocks a person’s access to treatment — such as a patient who lives far away from a medical care facility, or a patient who cannot transport themselves — healthcare providers might decide to expand the list of conditions they are willing to treat.

Telemedicine is no doubt a very convenient option for people in rural areas who do not have a healthcare centre in their community or lack the funds to travel to one.

Residents in rural areas will be able to reach a healthcare professional and receive treatment without issue thereby leading to a reduction in the loss of lives.

Aishat M. Abisola is a member of the Society for Health Communication
Wuye District, Abuja
[email protected]