ACI, a Nigerian organization with the goal of seeing young Nigerians take leadership position in robotics and software development has stressed the need for Africa to embrace robotics to improve the quality of healthcare on the continent.
Speaking to nuviun, Olaoluwa Balogun, founder of ACI Africa said robotics could help improve a number of processes that are currently cumbersome and are frustrating healthcare professionals and patients in sub-Saharan Africa.
One of such aspects is in the area of sorting patients’ files.
You know patients wait for a lot of hours just for hospital attendants to look for their file before they see the doctor in general hospitals. Why not have a system that can recognize a patient's card, verify if the card is registered in that general hospital and it hasn't expired. Then print out a slip for the patient, he said.
He added that the patient will take this slip to the doctor and since the patient’s medical report has been digitalized, the doctor can easily open it on his computer. This innovation and deployment of robotics, he said, could drastically reduce the time a patient spends in the clinic, reducing the burden on the healthcare providers and could help healthcare to become less expensive in Africa.
He added that Africa’s hospitals could also deploy robotics in the area of diagnosis, especially for blood and urine assays among others.
They all follow the same pattern. They can be automated. The patient picks a test tube, pours his urine in it up to a certain level, and places it into a device that scans it. Within a few minutes, he gets his results printed out, he said.
The principle of robotics, he said, is already being put to use in a number of sectors in Africa, especially manufacturing. This suggests that with interest, the right strategy and framework, robotics could be gradually introduced into the healthcare system in Africa.
“You can achieve this in either of two ways. You can easily deploy robotics to a lot of sectors in the country by just outsourcing the projects to a foreign robotics research and development firm. But I won't subscribe to that. I would love a situation where our educational system can be structured to build the human capacity that will allow us to build the infrastructure needed locally. For that, we need more problem-solving oriented institutions in Africa,” he told nuviun.
To drive the adoption of robotics, Balogun said his organization is planning to introduce young Nigerians at secondary schools to robotics.
We want Nigerian kids to start thinking and innovating like their international counterparts. We can't build a great country by just nurturing kids that pass exams. So we thought we should start by training 10,000 kids in robotics and make them compete among themselves on a termly basis. We are doing this in 200 secondary schools across 6 cities.
The project is scheduled to kick off in September 2015 through April 2016.
The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.