There are many lessons to be learned from the Lekki tollgate protest, but this post focuses on the lessons for the health industry following the event.
This is with the regard to the innovative ways of improving the emergency rescue models through advocating for telecommunication in healthcare.
October 20th, 2020; (20. 10. 2020) shall forever be remembered in the history of Nigeria. This revolution first started as a series of protests but was gradually affecting all sectors of the Nigerian economy. Influencers, Doctors, Lawyers, Artists, Public Speakers, IT gurus, name them, have never been more relevant as they are now, since the onset of the Protests.
Youths are the owners of the future in every society, and every generation of young people always have messages to pass on to the world. These messages are usually unique for every developing sector in any nation, but it’s left for creative minds to discover and act on them. There are lessons for the health industry with the view of improving patient’s accessibility to basic healthcare.
The State of the Nigerian Healthcare System Before the Lekki Tollgate Protest
- The Nigerian healthcare system still operates as is, in the typical setting of traditional healthcare delivery. A situation where the center of patient care is solely centered in the hospitals even when there may be no doctor around.
- Even when patients need to get to a hospital to receive basic healthcare, the required facilities needed to convey such patients to a hospital (Which may not be nearby) like ambulances, are limited and in most cases not available at all, except in cases of special intervention by good Samaritans.
- The health sector is yet to fully appreciate the role of telemedicine in making basic healthcare easily accessible to citizens. But all can appreciate the role of telecommunication in the response of some young doctors to the Lekki tollgate protest.
- There is no mutual relationship between healthcare workers and the telecommunication industry, and other industries of cross-sectional relevance.
- The health sector is poorly funded by the government, making it difficult for Medical directors to make the fundamental facilities of basic healthcare delivery available.
- Apart from the public social channels, there is rarely any other platform where people can find the list of available health workers in a region suffering from crisis and make a call for assistance.
The Role of Telecommunication in Response to Lekki Tollgate Protest
Twitter has proven to be the best social platform for creating awareness about emergency situations, but one setback could be the absence of the live broadcast plugin. In milliseconds, one could get an overview of what was happening live during the hours of the crisis through tweets.
Apart from the information being passed, the platform also served as a uniting force for people of various classes and professions to lend a helping hand through influencers in cases of emergency.
Also, Twitter served as a major platform for educating people on the protest ground on how to give simple first aid to the victims.
A typical example can be seen below in the screenshot of a picture (Twitter), illustrating the basic guides to handling a wound when there is no doctor around.
Furthermore, some media influencers on the protest ground used the live-stream plugin on their Instagram pages to connect with doctors, who from their mobile devices gave directives on how to handle trauma.
The tweet below is from one of the Nigerian doctors based in the United Kingdom; Dr. Harvey Orunfunmilayo (Ourfavendsarsdoc) with popular handles on Twitter, and on it, he wrote:
I want to help the people in Lekki by remote consultation
On IG (Instagram) Live. I’m willing to give medical advice through the phone. If anyone knows how to reach out to anyone there.
I’m willing to help.
I tried joining Dj switch live.
It’s all crowded. This night brings me tears.
And yet another doctor;
Any doctor or medical personnel working tonight
Should please drop the address of their facility
On djswitch’s live video.
Please endeavor to advocate for as many donors as possible.
And many other doctors used their social handles to bring practical solutions that ameliorated the level of injury and damage to people on the night of the event.
The summary of it all is that at this point, with the level of unity in the current social media diversity, all sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially the healthcare system must appreciate the role of telecommunication in catering to the basic needs of the public.
Hence, it is imperative to think of effective means of collaborating with the telecom industries to achieve this.
Also, it is time for health entrepreneurs to get creative as tons of opportunities lie in telemedicine as a means of providing basic healthcare before the patient’s presentation to the hospitals.
There are already many models and software designs built by many other service-related industries tailored to make responses to emergency situations easier. But there are things that should be put in place if the healthcare system should mimic such designs.
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What Could Be Done? 5 Lessons For Healthcare
This question has no clear cut answer, but adopting a creative approach to health practice, and creating rooms for innovation is a good place to start from.
1. Imitation of Emergency Rescue Models in Other Sectors
One of the software designs which could be emulated is the one used by ‘Uber’ ; a U.S based transportation company that is gradually expanding in other parts of the world.
The company has a network of registered drivers with licenses, and one can easily reach any of these drivers if they need to be moved from their current location.
Relating this to healthcare, a similar structure is possible in the health sector, where licensed doctors and health workers are connected in a way that anyone in an emergency situation can see the list of available health workers and facilities close by and request help immediately.
This practice will save more lives compared to calling an ambulance from a hospital that may be miles away.
This idea is not very different from the 911 model, but with the decentralization of the service to incorporate more licensed doctors and health workers, the more efficient it will be in saving lives.
This must not work in this same module, but the idea could be refined and put into something more creative.
Some health entrepreneurs are gradually adopting telemedicine in their private practice. But more needs to be done in the public health sector to ensure that it is fully incorporated into the healthcare system.
Also, more needs to be done as it concerns educating the public in the basic care and prevention of diseases. Just as Thomas Edison predicted:
The physicians of the future will give no medicine,
But will interest their patients more on the care
And the prevention of diseases.Thomas edison
It is about time health workers started acting on this; providing the public with the basic information they need to manage simple ailments.
The billboards should be replaced with such basic health tips instead of posters of politicians and television stars who contribute nearly nothing to the well being of society as compared to health workers.
Just like health workers responded during the 20.10.2020 night crisis, healthpreneurs should think of creating more of such platforms like the Instagram live channel.
But this time, with attention directed to healthcare, so that in moments of crisis, patients can easily connect with doctors or other health workers in cases where the hospital is too far to seek.
If all these necessary measures are carefully put in place, then basic healthcare can be easily accessible to anyone wherever they may be.
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3. Encouraging Private Practitioners
A careful observation of the response to the emergency situations in Nigeria, especially with regards to the Lekki Tollgate protest, shows that the first response to the emergency is usually from private hospitals.
For instance, many victims were initially taken to nearby private hospitals, but due to inadequate healthcare facilities, were referred to government hospitals.
Also, patients usually prefer to visit private hospitals because of the protocols in the government hospitals. But one will find that these private hospitals are usually more expensive than government hospitals. So investing more in private hospitals apparently looks more beneficial as opposed to public hospitals. This note is mainly for philanthropists and investors.
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4. Health Workers Can Still Perform Well Without Government’s Intervention
Becoming healthpreneurs seems to be the new dawn for health workers. Waiting for the government’s intervention in a country like Nigeria can be the most frustrating thing that will happen to any citizen.
So becoming entrepreneurs and merging it with health practice seems to be the best way to create the changes needed in the health sector.
One cannot act on the innovative ideas they have to improve the health condition of society without finance. And if getting aids and grants from the government has proven abortive, the only way out is to create the grants yourself.
This will be an extra burden on health workers who are already overburdened by the responsibility of saving lives, but it is not impossible.
Lekki Tollgate protest is a typical example of a helpless situation. One can bet that all Nigerian professionals have lessons to learn.
The country is proclaimed independent from other nations, but the irony is that its citizens are now thinking of how to exist independently of a failed system of leadership.
The health sector remains one of the most essential of all others, and it will be hopeless if such a sector relies solely on a failed government to function. Hence, the need to get creative, and start appreciating innovative ideas to make their devotion to saving lives worthwhile.