Patients anxiously waiting to be attended to by medical personnel at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Ituku-Ozala near Enugu City, have been told that they can now consult doctors in the hospital through telephone and the internet.

The new telemedicine hospital response service allows doctors in UNTH to remotely provide usual hospital services ranging from consultations, drug prescription, laboratory, and radiology to appointment scheduling.

In a statement released to newsmen, Chief Medical Director, Dr. Obinna Onodugo asked patients to dial the number 01-888-5014 from their phones to access personnel who will assist to manage their health symptoms, interpret clinical results, and guide them on drug usage and prescriptions, as well as for maternity care.

Dr. Onodugo said the hospital has no option than to sign on to this unique system that is used around the world during this time to reduce the level of “intrinsic fear sweeping across the nation, forcing the society not only to take precautions but also ensuring that people now stay away from others and public places including markets and somewhat hospitals.”

He described the effect of this situation on patients as “overwhelming.”

“Staying away from hospitals out of fear might be good against spreading the disease but could be detrimental to the health of myriads of regular patients who require hospital visits to attend to their health,” he said in a statement announcing the initiative.

Onodugo however disclosed that this is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health called Health-in-a-Box, “a technology support system that responsibly enables regular patients to dial-in to access critical health information and consultations with medical practitioners.”.

He also said that for the duration of the pandemic, patients will get specialist consultations through the telemedicine health service at no cost.

He assured that at the hospital, the system will be managed by “qualified healthcare practitioners across various medical fields who will provide online real time responses to medical issues from a service desk located at the hospital.”