Telemedicine plays a crucial role in improving access to quality healthcare in Nigeria by making up for the deficit in healthcare professionals, removing long transit and waiting time in the few available health facilities. But despite the prospects of telemedicine in Nigeria, many—including the youth who are tech-savvy—are yet to embrace it.
Perhaps, the reason many Nigerians are yet to fully adopt telemedicine is that we are somewhat resistant to change or we are not adequately informed about what telemedicine really is.
Here’s how telemedicine helps in expanding young people’s access to healthcare:
1. Tackling Drug Abuse
It’s no news that Nigeria is struggling with a drug abuse epidemic. According to United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC), over 14.4 % of Nigerians—largely comprised of youths—engage in drug abuse. This is not surprising owing to the fact that many Nigerians would rather take to self-medication than go through the stress of journeying for several hours to consult with a doctor in the nearest medical facility.
Thankfully, telemedicine is here to put an end to this worrisome trend. Now, young Nigerians can consult with a doctor from the comfort of their homes.
2. Addressing Mental Health Challenges
Another thing that’s common with the youth demography is mental illness. If the piece published by Socrates Mbamalu on Al Jazeera is anything to go by, about 50 million Nigerians—largely composed of youths—are struggling with some sort of mental health issues.
Without looking far, you would see quite a lot of people battling depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and other mental health issues. Nigerian youths can correct this negative trajectory by embracing telemedicine.
Due to the stigma associated with certain sicknesses and diseases, many youths shy away from seeking treatment. This has contributed to the high mortality in the country.
While more needs to be done to stem the tide of stigmatization, telemedicine provides a way around the problem. Nigerian youths no longer need to be worried about privacy and confidentiality issues, thanks to the availability of a wide array of telemonitoring technologies.
One thing that’s common with Millennials and Gen Zs is their allergy to anything that comes with stress. Perhaps, this is why many resort to self-help instead of seeking professional help for their physical and mental health issues.
Fortunately, telemedicine offers the much-needed convenience youths crave.
With youth unemployment standing at about 38% as of the fourth quarter of 2020, many youths would rather suffer in silence or resort to self-medication than incur a huge amount of debt in a bid to get access to quality healthcare. With telemedicine, even unemployed youths can afford quality healthcare.
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