Tech Expert Advocate For AI, and Machine Learning in Nigeria’s Health Sector

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A US based Nigerian Public Health Advocate and healthcare Information technology expert, Funke Alabi has harped on the need for healthcare practitioners in Nigeria to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to enhance healthcare operating system in the country.

In a recent press statement, Alabi explained that Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds remarkable potential for transforming healthcare in resource-poor settings, notably in countries like Nigeria and Kenya.

Alabi, who currently serves as both CEO of Cohexa and Leader of the ‘Physician Systems Optimizer Team’ at Tufts Medicine, overseeing a multi-hospital health system in Massachusetts is currently advocating that Nigeria should integrate technology into her health care system.

She disclosed that the integration of AI into healthcare system in our nation can effectively address various challenges by leveraging technological innovations.

She said, “The widespread use of smartphones, coupled with investments in technologies such as mobile health (mHealth), electronic medical records (EMR), and cloud computing, opens up significant opportunities for AI applications.

These initiatives aim to enhance public health outcomes in low-income countries, offering solutions for diagnosis, prediction, and improving overall healthcare efficiency.” She added.

The tech expert further disclosed that Machine learning, a subset of AI, plays a crucial role in analyzing intricate data to identify patterns and make timely predictions related to the onset of diseases and clinical outcomes.

She mentioned that in the developed world today, the use of AI and Machine learning to power the healthcare system has set them far apart from developing nations in Africa.

She added that by consolidating extensive information from clinical notes, pathology results, sensor readings, and medical images, machine learning contributes to more effective and predictive healthcare solutions.

She said that technology not only enhances diagnostic accuracy but also aids in treatment planning, holding promise for personalized and data-driven interventions that cater to the specific needs of diverse populations.

Alabi noted that Nigeria’s healthcare landscape, is characterized by challenges such as cardiovascular diseases and high mortality rates, presents a substantial opportunity for the application of AI.

“The country’s AI in Healthcare Market is expected to witness significant growth, surging from $0.01 billion in 2022 to $0.13 billion by 2030, reflecting a notable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.22%. With 39,914 operational hospitals and clinics, and major states like Lagos, Katsina, and Benue leading in healthcare facilities, Nigeria is poised for AI-driven advancements in its healthcare sector.

Alabi further gave instances to showcase the integration of AI in Nigeria’s healthcare landscape. Noting that institutions like the Lagos University Teaching Hospital leverage AI for early breast cancer detection through the analysis of mammograms.

Concluding, the expert proposed that collaborations with government institutions and healthcare centers in Nigeria, such as partnerships with the Government of Kisumu and Jaramogi Teaching and referral hospital in Kenya, highlight the concerted efforts to enhance operational efficiency, optimize patient data, and improve the quality of cancer treatments, ultimately aiming to improve patient outcomes.

She said as investments from both government and private sectors continue to rise, the trajectory of AI adoption in Nigeria’s healthcare sector appears promising, ushering in a new era of technological innovation and patient-centered care.

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