The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) on Thursday in Abuja rolled out its Telemedicine project to support the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
Prof. Agboola Olufemi, Provost, Institute of Space Science and Engineering (ISSE) and the official in charge of the project, said the project was highly needed now that the country is fighting the scourge of Coronavirus.
Olufemi said that nations of the world were battling seriously to contain the spread of the virus and needed to tap into digital mechanisms to avail medication, track infected patients, which the telemedicine project could offer.
“The telemedicine project is a mobile hospital which when connected to the satellite can give real time diagnosis and people in it can remotely connect for treatment,” Olufemi explained.
Similarly, Dr Nongo Sesugh, the Chief Engineer, Department of Engineering and Space System of NASRDA, said the concern to make healthcare available for rural dwellers prompted the initiative.
Sesugh said the mobile clinic was designed with minimum facilities needed and as seen in regular clinics.
“We know that medical experts are deficient in rural areas, so when this van is in remote areas, patients in them can connect to specialists in tertiary hospitals through satellite.
“The specialists can diagnose illnesses and can even prescribe drugs online. With the telemedicine van, distance barrier is limited,” Sesugh said.
The engineer said that the space agency also had other initiatives that can help the fight against COVID-19, like the electronic stethoscope and perimeter that could monitor respiratory system of patients.
He, however, hoped that there could be Private-Public Partnership for some investment in the project.
According to him, some private institutions are already indicating interest, but it is an intellectual property and research product that needs to be protected; hence the need for an agreement.
Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, during the demonstration of the telemedicine van, lauded the efforts of the agency in coming up with the intervention initiative to help the nation at this point in time.
Onu said the initiative, if adopted, would be an avenue of bringing the hospital closer to the people.
He, however, said the ministry would make effort to present the initiative to the Presidential Task Force on containing COVID-19, hoping it will be adopted.