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Niger Postgrad Med J. 2020 Jan-Mar;27(1):1-7. doi: 10.4103/npmj.npmj_141_19.

Electronic medical record systems: A pathway to sustainable public health insurance schemes in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom; Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Health Sciences, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria.
Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Health Sciences, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria.


Pubic health insurance schemes are usually set up by governments to provide cover for their insured populations against healthcare costs. These schemes are usually administered by a government agency and vary both in how they are funded and provide their services. A number of developing countries have introduced such schemes to minimise the impact of financial barriers to healthcare access by their populations. These schemes are expected to bridge the inequality in healthcare. A National Health Insurance Scheme has been in operation in Nigeria since 2005 to provide health cover for government employees and those in private institutions with no less than ten workers. There are similar schemes in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted a literature review of publications on public health insurance schemes in sub-Saharan Africa to identify the challenges they encounter. We found 76 relevant publications. Although much have been published on these schemes, few have addressed the critical obstacles to effective implementation, management and sustenance in the unique environments we find in sub-Saharan Africa - where poor technological infrastructures, acts of forgery, counterfeiting and other forms of fraud are common. We highlight these challenges, using the scheme in Nigeria for reference. We discuss the potential role of robust electronic medical record (EMR) systems for sustainable schemes in such environments and describe some of the ways robust EMR systems could be used to mitigate the challenges posed by most of the peculiar problems associated with poor infrastructures.


Electronic medical record; health management organisation; information technology; public health insurance; universal health coverage

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