NITDA Partners with ACEPHAP to Leverage Digital Technology for Healthcare Transformation

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is set to collaborate with the Africa Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy (ACEPHAP) to transform healthcare delivery in Nigeria through technological innovations. This collaboration aligns with the presidential priority areas of focusing on education, health, and social investment by enhancing capacities through digital innovation and inclusive access to technology.

This partnership was announced during a visit by a delegation from ACEPHAP, led by its director, Professor Hadiza Shehu Galadanci, to NITDA’s Director-General, Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, at the agency’s Corporate Headquarters. During the meeting, Inuwa outlined a comprehensive plan to leverage technology across critical sectors in Nigeria, particularly healthcare, emphasizing that technology is a crucial tool for enhancing productivity and innovation.

Highlighting NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0), Inuwa stated that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration prioritizes healthcare, utilizing technology to achieve significant development in the sector. “Healthcare is key to us, and the President is also big and loud on it. We have crafted our strategic roadmap and action plan with eight pillars to achieve significant milestones in the sector,” he noted.

One of the pillars, “Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents,” aims for 95% digital literacy by 2030, with a mid-term target of 70% by 2027. The Digital Literacy for All programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, aims to integrate digital skills into the national academic curriculum. Additionally, NITDA plans to train 3 million Nigerians in high-demand IT skills through initiatives, including partnerships with platforms like Coursera. “We aim to increase the digital fluency of our citizens. Everyone should be able to use digital devices safely and responsibly, as well as build our proficiency to enhance our digital offerings in the country,” Inuwa added.

Inuwa provided insights into various strategic initiatives the agency is implementing, which ACEPHAP can leverage to create a vibrant healthcare sector. These initiatives align with other SRAP pillars, such as building a robust technology research ecosystem, strengthening policy implementation and legal frameworks, promoting inclusive access to digital infrastructure and services, strengthening cybersecurity, nurturing an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, forging strategic partnerships and collaborations, and cultivating a vibrant organizational culture and agile workforce in NITDA.

NITDA is investing in the research of six emerging technologies: AI, IoT, Robotics, UAVs, Blockchain, and Additive Manufacturing, with plans to establish centers of excellence in geopolitical zones to foster innovation and collaboration. “Based on that, we would do the site readiness assessment for the equipment you need, and you can do it for any or all of the identified emerging technologies with your focus on healthcare,” he stated.

Emphasizing the importance of patient data privacy, Inuwa noted, “Cybersecurity is critical to whatever you do because even the patients need to be sure of the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of their information. As you digitize, you need to ensure their data is secured.”

Through the Nigeria Startup Act, NITDA supports startups with incentives and resources to foster innovation, encouraging them to register and benefit from these initiatives to boost their growth and scalability. Inuwa mentioned recent collaborations, such as with E-Health Africa, which utilizes AI tools like ChatGPT to enhance medical research and diagnostics, aiming to develop local AI-driven solutions to transform healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

Prof. Galadanci expressed optimism about the future, envisioning a long-lasting relationship with NITDA that will drive transformative change in the healthcare sector. She shared success stories from ACEPHAP’s healthcare entrepreneurship boot camp and pitching event in 2023, where young innovators in Kano were identified and supported with seed grants to further develop their ideas.

“We sincerely hope this will be the beginning of a long-lasting relationship and partnership that will translate to the true meaning of the quadruple helix in addressing healthcare challenges through technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Nigeria and Africa,” she remarked.

This collaboration marks a significant step towards revolutionizing healthcare in Nigeria through the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices.

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