In its quest to make medications easily accessible and affordable for patients across the country, WellaHealth Technologies, one of the leading healthcare tech startups in Nigeria, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) to digitise all retail pharmacies in the country. The signing of the partnership held recently at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Founder and CEO, WellaHealth Technologies, Dr Ikpeme Neto, explained the essence of the collaboration with ACPN, saying it is to broaden the scope of their services in making drugs easily available and affordable to patients through the use of technological platforms in accessing community pharmacies inventories and prices of drugs, which will enhance proper guidance of clients in sourcing their healthcare needs.
Aside cataloguing all retail pharmacies on a digital platform for easy accessibility by clients, Neto, a medical doctor by profession, said they also offer best prices of medication through a micro insurance service, as customers sometimes may not need to get to a pharmacy to access their medications. This micro insurance service, allows patients to consult with doctors online as well as access other healthcare services.
“At WellaHealth, we provide services to improve accessibility and affordability of healthcare. We work particularly on using alternative care pathway to improve healthcare. Today, we are working with the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) to use community pharmacists as points of contacts for people to access great quality healthcare. Now with this partnership, we have access to over 5,000 pharmacies, where Nigerians can go to for testing, consultation, treatments, medications at very good prices.
“For the partnership to thrive, WellaHealth and ACPN will work hand in hand to catalogue all community pharmacies, put them on a technological platform, where we can easily contact them, for proper information about the medications they have in stock and prices for clients to guide customers accordingly” he stated.
In his remarks, National Chairman, ACPN, Pharm. Wale Oladigbolu, expressed the delight of the association to partner WellaHealth towards expanding digital healthcare delivery in Nigeria. He asserted that WellaHealth has taken the right initiative in signing an agreement with community pharmacists, because any drug prescription done without the assessment of a pharmacist is a prescription to death.
As drug experts with about 6,000 members spread across the country, he averred they offer first level healthcare service and advance level healthcare service. Parts of their services according to him are fulfilling prescription in the community pharmacy, which entails preventing drug-induced diseases from members of the public, ensuring that there is no contraindication to the medications on the prescription, ensuring there is no medicine-medicine interaction and no medicine food interaction.
According to Oladigbolu: “WellaHealth is a technology company that has advanced healthcare throughout Africa; it is good we work together for the good of our people. So specifically, we are looking forward to a future of robust engagement so that national health insurance prescription channeled through community pharmacies which is the way it is done all over the world and should be done in Nigeria, as WellaHealth is pioneering it, is a welcome development.
“It is true our members will benefit from the scheme but the ultimate beneficiaries are members of the public. I’m also encouraging WellaHealth on their part to engage more hospitals so that we can continue to do what is right for Nigerians, because a prescription without the input of a pharmacist is a poison”.
Condemning the operations of some clinics and hospitals which dispense medications without engaging the service of pharmacists, he said it is unethical, as it contravenes healthcare best practices in the world.
”Since healthcare system didn’t originate from Nigeria, whatever we are copying form the advanced countries must be taken in totality. We know that you can’t prescribe drugs in the UK and USA without the input of a pharmacist, so why must it be different in Nigeria? Why must we be killing Nigerians by doing the wrong things? If a clinic does not have a pharmacist, the prescription should go outside the clinic, otherwise, you are not optimising the health of the populace” he quipped.
Explaining the modus operandi of WellaHealth, Dr Neto, explained how easy it is for customers to get the medications through their platform. He likened it to a scenario where a patient residing in Ikeja needs paracetamol, being a digital healthcare space, they will know exactly the nearest pharmacy that has paracetamol in stock at a very affordable rate.
“Or if you are a patient in Bayelsa State and you need a diabetic drug, with our technology, we can tell the nearest pharmacy that has the drug you need, and give the information to patients. We are working closely with the association to make this technology available so that we know where the drugs are, we know their prices and we can give quick access to the general public”, he stated.
“To achieve this goal, first and first most, we are digitising the pharmacies which make it possible for the public to access them via ecommerce platforms. Secondly, we are working with 10 health insurance companies to give their patients access to medications across the country. For instance, instead of a HMO client travelling long distances in search of medications, the HMO will detail us and we can make the drugs available to the client.
“Think about it, if you have to go to three pharmacies in search of a drug that is very difficult and very expensive for patients to find. We remove that stress for every client and give best prices as well”, he stated.