The end of the year 2019 and beginning of 2020 saw the world faced with one of the most devastating pandemics in recent times, the Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.

The challenges have been overwhelming in every sector of the global economy; from healthcare systems to growing economic despair, complete educational shut-down, food crisis, health emergencies and loss of lives, amongst others; the challenges are endless.

Corona-viruses in humans is known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more life threatening diseases such as MERS and SARS and spreads through direct or close contact with infected people, and indirect contact with contaminated objects or surfaces.

Countries around the world have had to find coping measures to curb the number of casualties of  corona-virus at varying degrees.

So far, the World Health Organization has given guidelines that will enable people to stay safe in the face of the pandemic. Some of these guidelines involve maintaining a clean and hygienic environment, practising regular and thorough hand-washing and hand sanitizing, using nose masks, and avoiding crowded places in general.

Telehealth: the way forward

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic saw partial and total lockdown of socio-economic activities all around the world. The health sector was not left out of the huge blow the pandemic dealt to different sectors.

As much as most developed nations around the world have found alternate route to medical care of their citizens through the use of technology, the same cannot be said for most African nations.

Here in Nigeria, this has been made even more difficult with the unending challenges faced in the healthcare system across various states. Challenges such as insufficient health facilities, low doctor-to-patient ratio, lack of standard medical equipment and facilities, amongst others have made it difficult to tend to the healthcare needs of citizens across the nation.

For individuals with healthcare needs, accessing medical care while still adhering to the guideline of “social distancing” is what has somewhat proved challenging, especially with the few and mostly over-crowded health facilities littered across the country.

With all of these challenges pointed out and staring us in the face, it is pertinent to say that alternate routes should and must be considered for adoption as a nation, in seeking the continuation of medical services. This alternate route is telehealth.

Telehealth is the delivery of health care services by health care professionals,  using information and communication technologies (ICT) for the exchange of valid and correct information, especially where distance is a critical factor. The use of telehealth technology is a twenty-first century approach that is both patient-centered and protects patients, physicians, as well as others. It only requires the use of a smart device and internet that can provide communication between a patient and a healthcare provider, regardless of distance barriers. It has proved an effective option in the fight against the outbreak of COVID-19.


The medical community, and financiers of the health care sector have realized that telemedicine is applicable, acceptable, convenient and much sought after by patients around the world and that just about any disease or condition can be managed using telehealth technology. Despite all the challenges and resistance it has faced since inception, it has become evident that telemedicine can provide rapid, safe, and high-quality care remotely during this pandemic. Its acceptability has been shown to be high as well, as it is present in more than 125 countries around the world. Perhaps, one of the things the pandemic has opened our eyes to see is the possibility of accessing healthcare remotely, of which the technology of telehealth has made possible for us.

While most developed countries have since adopted telehealth for remote diagnosis and treatment, as a way of continuing with their health needs, the same cannot be said for most African countries.

The use of telehealth in medical diagnosis and treatment, especially in regions with healthcare challenges, can never be down played. Some recognized benefits in using the technology of telehealth are:

With all the benefits of telehealth, we can say that it will sure play an effective role in preventing, diagnosing, treating, and controlling diseases, in this part of the world, as we continue to face the challenges of, not just the COVID-19 outbreak, but of any other disease yet to be encountered in the future.

 Concerns on issues bothering on technical and clinical quality, privacy, safety and accountability,etc., are typically managed with proper agreements and documentations, signed and binding on all parties involved.

There is no limit to what can be achieved using telehealth technology.Therefore, this technology is the way forward for us in Africa, as it occupies a prime time in medical history and has already taken centre stage in most parts of the world.


In conclusion, the world has come to understand and accept the potentials of telemedicine in providing timely, convenient, safe, and less expensive care, where a patient does not need to be in the same room with the health care providers, and it is high time it is embraced in Nigeria and Africa.

Furthermore, telemedicine has consistently shown to be effective in increasing access to care in extreme conditions, such as health care crises, emergencies, wars, remote and inaccessible areas, or in limited-resource countries and regions.

Lastly, continuous healthcare support using telemedicine has allowed continuity of treatment for other unrelated clinical conditions, such as cancer, post-trauma, and acute care surgery, and providing psychological services amongst others.

Leave A Reply