NCDs Epidemic Looms in Africa, Says Anyakora

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– As Wellness HMO unveils mobile app to improve access to healthcare

NCDs Epidemic Looms in Africa, Says Anyakora
L-R: Prof. Chimezie Anyakora, CEO, Bloom Public Health; Dr Bethuel-Kasimu Abraham, deputy general manager, NHIS Lagos Zonal Office; Chief Mobolaji Ayorinde, chairman, Board of Directors, Wellness HMO; Adetutu Afolabi, managing director; Wellness HMO; and Tubosun Alake, special adviser to Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology at the Wellness Plus Official App launch held in Lagos recently.

To avert another disease outbreak in Africa, governments and stakeholders in the continent must actively combat the surging rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which have been predicted to become the leading cause of deaths by 2030, Prof. Chimezie Anyakora, CEO, Bloom Public Health, has said.

NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, are diseases that are not transmissible directly from one person to another. They include Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, strokes, heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and others.

Citing recent statistics and prediction from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on NCDs, Anyakora, a professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, lamented the diseases’ burden on African’s frail health system, saying the continent will experience a 27 per cent increase in deaths from NCDs over the next 10 years.

He added that the conditions are already accounting for 75 per cent of deaths in some countries like Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.

Anyakora noted that factors contributing to the sudden surge in the statitistics of NCDs in Africa include dearth of advanced diagnostics and drugs, as well as inadequacy of intensive disability management and prolonged care facilities in the continent.

“Africa’s healthcare system is already overstretched by efforts to combat communicable diseases like malaria, TB, and HIV/AIDS and poor maternal and child health”, he averred.

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Anyakora, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of Wellness Plus app, by Wellness HMO, urged African nations to deploy technological applications in reducing the burden of NCDs, saying such apps have played a significant role in in the management of disease conditions in the developed countries.

The public health expert described the Wellness app as a lifesaver which would help to reduce NCDs as more people get access to healthcare through the app.

According to him, “Many high-income countries have adopted the use of telemedicine and have nationwide computerised prescription registries that link data from all the different healthcare providers and pharmacies.

“Adopting technology builds on the habits acquired during this pandemic by allowing patients to take greater ownership of their health and enables the healthcare providers to deliver better care to many more people, thereby reducing the burden on our healthcare system.”

Also speaking at the launch of the new Wellness app, with the theme “Power to Choose” held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, Adetutu Afolabi, Group MD/CEO, Wellness HMO, disclosed that the new app is the first of its kind in Nigeria, as it gives users the freedom to choose and customise the healthcare plan that suits their budgets, making it easy for all to access an affordable and qualitative healthcare service.

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“Individuals have the choice to access healthcare on the go, at any time. They can pay for only the care they need, even if they don’t have any health insurance plan. These services include dental and eye care, basic, comprehensive, pre-employment, and cancer screening, among others. Individuals can also request for a doctor to consult with them virtually or visit them at home,” she explained.

Afolabi further emphasised that individuals will not be restricted to any specific hospital, at any particular time, as they can also choose from the range of hospitals available on the app for their specific health needs.

“Users now have the power to choose the benefits and the hospital they want for themselves, their spouses, and their children,” she stressed.

She also added that the creation of the mobile app allows Wellness HMO to give a unique experience that helps both enrollees and new users, in such a way that they get the best health services they deserve, without breaking the bank.

“This mobile app was developed to enable simplicity of access to healthcare. Wellness Plus allows users to access a wide range of healthcare benefits from the comfort of their mobile devices,” she said.

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Similarly, Dr Bethuel-Kasimu Abraham, deputy general manager, Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Lagos Zonal Office, who represented Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, executive secretary, NHIS, applauded Wellness HMO for the innovation, stating that it would revolutionise the health sector.

“Wellness HMO has just shown me when it comes to the use of technology they are not resting on their oars and are using technology to reach out to Nigerians who we are also trying to reach out to. At NHIS, we are not working in isolation; we are working with stakeholders like Wellness HMO. Our major interest is how many Nigerians are covered by health insurance but not how many are covered by NHIS,” he said.

On his part, Tubosun Alake, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology said the new app is a practical example of finding local solutions to local problems, saying it will transform the health sector in all ramifications.

He also noted that the state is determined to support the health sector with funding as it had already reeled out different initiatives in related areas.

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