Reps advocate more research into telemedicine operations

The Federal Government has been urged by the House of Representatives to research the operations of telemedicine practitioners across the country.

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.

The lawmaker, while leading the debate on the general principles of the motion, the lawmaker said, “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.”

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

According to the lawmaker, telemedicine companies have been operating in Nigeria for about a decade, while 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.

She said, “The legal framework covers patient’s safety and quality of care, data protection and privacy, verification of medical licensing an National Health Act 2014

The qualifications, ethical considerations covering consent and confidentiality.”

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

She noted that this lack of a specific legal framework for telemedicine operators could potentially put Nigerians at significant risk.

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

According to the lawmaker, 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.”

The Committee on Healthcare Services was also mandated 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.


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