Nigeria’s health ministry to use SMS to monitor countrywide operations

Patients in Nigeria will soon be able to lodge complaints on the nation’s healthcare system through, with plans underway to launch the technology in the near future, according to Nigeria’s health minister Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu.

Speaking at the inauguration of a ministerial service committee in Abuja on Tuesday, Chukwu said the Patient Feedback Platform (PFF) will be launched in the first quarter of 2013 and is expected to stimulate the nation’s health workforce to become more patient-friendly.

Through the platform, patients and their relatives will have direct access to the minister’s office by sending an SMS to a short code. Users of this service, according to the minister, will pay nothing to use the technology.

Chukwu said complaints on departments, establishments and agencies under the federal ministry would be forwarded to appropriate chief executives.

The technology is expected to enable the ministry to monitor and tackle the complaints, unlike the current arrangement in which all complaints are lodged with the Public Complaints Commission, the Consumer Protection Agency and the National Assembly.

The minister also said the technology would offer the ministry and the entire health workforce an opportunity for redemption.

“While we recognise patients’ rights to write to the National Assembly, send complaints to the Public Complaints Commission, the Consumer Protection Agency and beyond the ministry, let us offer them that first choice by presenting their complaints first to us,” he said.

He also stressed the need for other complaints portals to link with the SMS technology so that complaints on the healthcare sector would be tackled fast and not subjected to protracted bureaucratic bottlenecks as lives of patients are involved.

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