Thought Leadership

Instant electronic medical records for hospitals in Katsina State

We are always seeking innovative approaches to the myriad of challenges in the Nigerian health sector. If you follow this blog, you will also be interested in this website – eHealth and Information Systems Nigeria. 

On this website, we found an interesting story about a project which is focused on improving maternal and child health in Northern Nigeria, by creating effective ways to implement reliable health information management systems.

The plan is to equip seven general hospitals and five primary health-care centers with eHealth Nigeria’s “Instant EMR.” Instant EMR is an electronic medical records system that can be rapidly deployed to manage patient information, streamline clinical procedures, and provide data and analysis of health program outcomes.

An American Student, Evelyn Castle, had received a $10,000 public service scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation  which awarded the scholarship to fund her engagement with this project. Her Q&A is quite interesting and is published on her school’s website here.

Q: How would you describe the health care system in Nigeria? 
A. Countrywide, it is one of the worst in the world…. 

Q: What was the state of the records system when you first spent time in Nigeria? 
A: The funny thing is, Nigerians record everything on paper.Everything is written down, but once it is written down it is not used…. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge you will face while implementing an updated system? 
A: There is very limited power there. There is very little Wi-Fi reception. The Internet and cell phone calls are very expensive….

OK, we know Nigeria is tough and the challenges for this project are obvious. They are heading back to Nigeria to implement an estimated 12 “Instant EMR” implementations and to strengthen relations with partner organizations, like Pathfinder International

Technology is always a winner in demonstrating innovative solutions to solve problems in countries like Nigeria. While electricity and bandwidth will no doubt pose significant challenges – the biggest challenge will be for systems to work, for health professionals to find real value in them, and for Nigerians in Katsina to acquire the expertise to maintain it.

But yes – there is a lot of space in the health sector for innovative technological solutions!  We need more takers!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

6 replies on “Instant electronic medical records for hospitals in Katsina State”

Thanks for taking the time to comment on this piece about eHealth Nigeria. I think you are absolutely right, while some of the “wins” in our project are by tackling some the technical problems (power, connectivity, data management) this is really a project about strengthening health systems in the long-run. I’ve worked in Nigeria since 2003 with various organizations dealing with women’s rights, maternal and child health, human rights, and education and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the complexity and scale of problems. Our goal with founding eHealth Nigeria was to FOCUS on a problem that we can address and solve and begin to build the infrastructure and capacity to tackle more issues related to health.

I really hope you continue to follow our work and give your feedback and comments.

Adam Thompson
Co-Founder eHealth Nigeria

That sounds like a great innovation. But even more striking is that she is an undergraduate. How many of our Doctoral PhD students are coming up with ‘new’ ideas on how to solve Naija’s myriad health problems. Rather they re focused on “Prevalence”. Well change will state at a time.

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Dear Chikwe,
Yesterday in Calabar, capital of Cross river State of Nigeria, the Calabar Women & Children Hospital (CWCH) was formally and successfully commissioned. Mr Donald Duke the former Governor of Cross River State attended in person, the Minister of Health and Minister of Information were represented. The President of the Nigeria association of Paediatrics, Dr Dorothy Esangbedo, and the President-designate of the West African College of O&G, Professor Ogedengbe were present and spoke on the challenges of maternal and child care in Nigeria. Not a salutory story at all- figures that make you want to scream, realed out year after year but almost nothing done to alleviate it. Or rather a lot of things done in the mostly wrong direction with little systematic, sustained and structured practical approach.
Dr Joseph Ana, medical adviser to CWCH gave an overview of the hospital after Mrs Onari Duke the immediate past First lady of Cross River State gave her opening remarks as the visioner and motivator of CWCH. Mrs Duke is the Chairman of the proprietor of CWCH, the NGO called Child Survival and Development Organisation of Nigeria ( CS-DON).
The CWCH has space for 50-beds and is dedicated to giving newborn and children the chance to survive, and to make chilbirth safe again for Nigerian women. The vision was conceived in 1999 and foundation stone laid in 2001. It opened for Outpatient paediatric care in August 2009 and to in-patient admission in April 2010. To-date it has cared for 620 patients including seven neonates with age range 28 to 32 weeks, birth weight as low as 1.1 kg. Of the four premature neonates currently in the intensive care baby unit, two are orphans and their total care and needs are paid for by the proprietor of the hospital, CS-DON.

One of the parents of the neonates cared for in CWCH said and I qoute, ” I beg doctor make you thank Mrs Onari Duke for me because she bring oyibo treatment for us in Calabar”!
That says it all ——————–.

In CWCH operates in the manner that NEPA is stand-by and the main supply of power for now are generators. A costly fact but the incubators and ventilators and all other sophisticated equipment in the laboratory, dedicated obstetric theatre and general theatre, delivery room need 24/7 electricity. The mammogram machine and scanners also need the 24/7 power.
Finally, I am posting this message in reaction to the Katsina story because CWCH has a Homegrown Total Patient management System that ensures that patient details are captured.

Dr Joseph Ana

Adoption is EMRs is the best way to go for effective health information management system in Nigeria, however the practicability of its wide adoption in our Primary Health Care is a big issue to address.

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