There is something happening in the Abia State health sector that will interest any person who is interested in qualitative, affordable and accessible Medicare for our people.
It is called the ABIA STATE TELEHEALTH INITIATIVE (ABTI).
Last year, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu approved an initiative by the Ministry of Health to work with a Health Consultancy Outfit known as DIAL A DOC to pilot an initiative which gives access to Medicare via phone call.
Under this scheme, the Consultant provides special call cards with personalized PIN numbers. When a person gets the card, scratches it to reveal the PIN number, he will call a designated number which links him to the DIAL A DOC call center. He is then asked for his PIN number. When he provides the PIN number, he is then automatically hooked to a doctor who then attends to him through his phone. After listening to the patient and making some diagnoses, the doctor now has the option to take a number of steps.
The Consultants have been in Abia in the last six months piloting this scheme and yesterday, they were in Government House Umuahia to present their report to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
The Lead Consultant, Dr. Omas Ubiame told the Governor that Abia is the first state, not just in Nigeria but in black Africa to initiate and implement this scheme.
She said that they piloted the program in 15 LGAs over a six month period and that while they expected about 1500 calls, they ended up receiving 9,022 calls. According to her, the scheme was well received by the people of Abia State.
They usually worked with Primary Healthcare Centers which is the first port of call for sick persons especially in the rural areas.
She then presented their full report and the call cards to the Governor praying that with the success of the pilot scheme, all is now set to launch the program fully across the state.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Gozie John Ahukannah who led them to the Governor told him that this was part of the innovations that his ministry is introducing to help advance the Governor’s vision for the health sector in the state. He told the Governor that no other state has made any attempt along this line, just as Abia was the first state to introduce the emergency medical services in the country.
A visibly elated Governor Ikpeazu expressed delight at this new innovation and gave kudos to the Commissioner and his team for successfully piloting this scheme. He then tasked the consultants to demonstrate to him right there how the thing works.
There and then, a card was scratched and the Governor made a call on his private number and he was hooked on to a doctor directly. When the doctor who was expecting a patient’s call heard a voice saying…HELLO, MY NAME IS OKEZIE IKPEAZU, GOVERNOR OF ABIA STATE, I JUST WANT TO CONFIRM THAT THIS THING WORKS, the lady doctor was startled and excited. YES SIR, IT WORKS, she responded enthusiastically.
The Governor stated that his administration will do everything possible to see that this scheme is launched to cover the entire state.
Deputy Governor Ude Oko Chukwu, SSG, Dr. Eme Okoro, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Engr Emma Nwabuko and other senior aides to the Governor were part of the event.
I later engaged the consultant on a discussion where she explained in greater details how the scheme works. I shall bring that report later.