A doctor communicating with a patient via telemedicine.

Telemedicine: Reps Urge FG To Research Operations

The House of Representatives is urging the Federal Government to conduct research into the operations of telemedicine practices across the nation.

Telemedicine, which enables video or phone appointments between a patient and their health care practitioner, benefits both health and convenience.

The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion on ‘Need to investigate the operations of telemedicine practitioners in Nigeria,’ moved by the representatives of the Port Harcourt City Federal Constituency, Rivers State, Blessing Amadi, during the plenary session on Wednesday.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the motion, the lawmaker noted that “Telemedicine is a fast-growing area of healthcare with significant potential for improving access to healthcare and well-being of people by reducing delays in accessing healthcare due to time, distance, location.”

Amadi noted that telemedicine “ensures that a person with limited access to care, receives healthcare services when needed.”

She also noted that telemedicine companies have been operating in Nigeria for about a decade, adding that the “National Health Act 2014 was signed into law to provide a legal framework for the regulation, development and management of Nigeria’s Health System.”

The House, she said, “is aware that the legal framework covers patient’s safety and quality of care, data protection and privacy, verification of medical licensing and qualifications, ethical considerations covering consent and confidentiality.”

She, however, lamented that there was no legal framework for telemedicine operators, adding that “some providers have been asking for a blueprint/guidance while some are using the information gathered from the United Kingdom.”

This lack of a specific legal framework for Telemedicine operators, according to the lawmaker, could potentially put Nigerians at significant risk.

“Telemedicine has a huge potential and will benefit the country due to the shortage of clinicians to meet the demands in the country,” she added.

Following the adoption of the motion, the House urged “the Federal Ministry of Health and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to undertake a research on the operation of Telemedicine Practitioners in Nigeria.”

It further mandated the Committee on Healthcare Services to convene a legislative summit with all stakeholders in Telemedicine and policymakers to facilitate the process of creating a legal framework for Telemedicine operators in the country and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.