HR Professional Advocates for Investments in AI Integration To Transform Nigeria's Healthcare Scene - CAVEAT TIMES


Sunday, July 7, 2024

HR Professional Advocates for Investments in AI Integration To Transform Nigeria's Healthcare Scene

Onyeka Omose is a Strategic HR professional based in the US, is serving as the Cofounder of Cohexa AI. Onyeka is shaping the future of Health Tech companies and the workforce they cultivate while actively advocating for Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning (ML) integration into Nigeria's healthcare system.

The lack of an adequate comprehensive prehospital health care service is a major issue with Nigeria's healthcare system. Even if you can afford life-saving treatment, what if you're in a position where you can't drive?

With these challenges lies a significant opportunity. One that intertwines healthcare technology and human resources in a way that could revolutionize both industries and provide a pathway to prosperity for Nigeria's burgeoning youth population. Imagine 24x7 medical assistance and custom tutoring for everyone.

McKinsey & Co. surveyed 200 health system execs. Al was listed as the top digital investment priority with the most investment focus in the next two years. Al, ML, and deep learning are projected to result in net savings of up to $360B in healthcare spending!

In Nigeria, this potential remains largely untapped. This presents a unique opportunity not only to improve healthcare outcomes but also to invest in human capital. Particularly the youth and create a vibrant, tech-driven workforce.

The need for innovation in Nigeria's healthcare system is urgent. With a maternal mortality ratio of 814 per 100,000 live births and a neonatal mortality rate of 34 per 1,000, the situation is dire. Nigerian doctors, among the lowest-paid in the world, are leaving in droves for better opportunities abroad and non-clinical practice. This brain drain is severely impacting our healthcare, especially in rural areas.

According to the World Health Organization, the country has one of the lowest doctor-to- patient ratios in the world. This shortage is exacerbated by a lack of medical equipment and facilities, especially in rural areas. 

Al can bridge these gaps by augmenting the capabilities of healthcare professionals and providing support in diagnostics and patient management. For instance, Al integrated diagnostic tools can analyse medical images and lab results with high accuracy, assisting doctors in making timely and accurate diagnoses. Telemedicine platforms powered by Al can extend the reach of healthcare services to remote areas, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Investing in Al integrated healthcare technologies requires a parallel investment in human resources. The youth of Nigeria, who make up more than 60% of the population, represent a reservoir of untapped potential. With the right training and opportunities, they can become the driving force behind this technological revolution. Equipping young Nigerians with skills in Al, machine learning, and healthcare technology can create a new cadre of professionals adept at operating and innovating these systems. 

This not only addresses the immediate healthcare needs but also paves the way for economic growth by creating high-value jobs.

Education and training are pivotal in this transformation. Universities and technical institutes need to adapt their curricula to include courses on Al and its applications in healthcare. Partnerships with tech companies and healthcare providers can facilitate internships and hands- on training, providing students with real-world experience. Additionally, government and private sector initiatives can offer scholarships and funding for research in Al-driven healthcare solutions, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning.

The economic benefits of investing in Al and human capital in healthcare are manifold. By creating a skilled workforce, Nigeria can attract foreign investment and establish itself as a hub for healthcare technology in Africa. This can lead to the development of home-grown tech companies specializing in Al solutions, generating employment and stimulating economic growth. The improved healthcare outcomes resulting from Al integration can enhance the overall quality of life, leading to a healthier, more productive population.

Government policy plays a crucial role in this ecosystem. Incentives for start-ups and tech companies, along with streamlined regulatory processes for medical innovations, can accelerate the integration of Al in healthcare. Collaboration between government, academia, and the private sector is essential to build a robust infrastructure that supports innovation and ensures that the benefits of Al in healthcare are accessible to all Nigerians.

Acclaiming the ethical and societal implications of Al in healthcare is essential. Transparency, data privacy, and patient consent must be prioritized to build trust in these new technologies.

Inclusive policies that consider the diverse needs of Nigeria's population can ensure that Al-driven healthcare solutions are equitable and beneficial for all.

Finally, the integration of Al in Nigeria's healthcare system presents a transformative opportunity. Nigeria's healthcare system suffers from poor coordination and low productivity.

We must re-imagine care delivery through the creative application of technology and AI. The youth of Nigeria, with their energy and adaptability, are the key to this future. Through education, training, and supportive policies, Nigeria can harness the power of Al to create a healthier, more prosperous nation. The time to act is now. For the sake of our health, our economy, and the future of our youth.

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