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Table of Contents
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44-45

The need for implementation of effective telepsychiatry services in the era of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria


Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Date of Submission06-Jan-2021
Date of Decision24-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance25-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication25-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ph.D. Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu
Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, Rome 00185
Italy
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/TPSY.TPSY_10_21

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How to cite this article:
Okechukwu CE. The need for implementation of effective telepsychiatry services in the era of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Taiwan J Psychiatry 2021;35:44-5

How to cite this URL:
Okechukwu CE. The need for implementation of effective telepsychiatry services in the era of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Taiwan J Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 19];35:44-5. Available from: http://www.e-tjp.org/text.asp?2021/35/1/44/311900



Most Nigerians with mental health challenges and illnesses lack quality treatment because of the shortage of psychiatrists in Nigeria and the population of Nigeria is around 200 million, making it the most populated Black nation[1]. But there is shortage of psychiatrists to provide effective mental healthcare services in the densely populated West African country; the psychiatrist–patient quotient in Nigeria is appalling, consequently hindering effective mental healthcare delivery in Nigeria[1]. There are about 200 registered psychiatrists currently listed to practice in Nigeria; this means that one psychiatrist is meant to cater for the mental health of one million Nigerians[1].

There is a need to implement effective telepsychiatry services in Nigeria, mostly through video communication, and this can be achieved through computer-based platforms, unique mobile-based apps, Skype, and WhatsApp.[2]. The implementation of telepsychiatry services in Nigeria, most especially in this era of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), will increase the accessibility of mental healthcare services in Nigeria, filling the lacunae of the shortage of mental healthcare personnel in Nigerian hospitals, because through telepsychiatry, mental healthcare service delivery will be faster, and the physicians will have lesser risk of contracting COVID-19[3].COVID-19 poses a serious challenge to mental healthcare delivery worldwide. Telepsychiatry should be used to assist mental healthcare personnel to cater for the mental health needs of Nigerians who have mental issues and who require constant interactions with their physicians due to their present health condition[3]. Telepsychiatry contributes to effective mental healthcare in developed countries in this era of COVID-19 pandemic, and it can be used in many ways; telepsychiatry is an actual and viable platform for safe practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals [2-4]. Telepsychiatry fills the communication gap between patients, psychiatrists, mental healthcare providers, and the health organizations. It is a platform through which patients with mental illness who tested positive for COVID-19 can interact with their psychiatrists from home through the Internet, thereby minimizing the spread of COVID-19. through this platform, medications can be recommended to patients, or alternatively medicines can be delivered to patients at home[5]. Moreover, patients' caregivers can as well be integrated into the system for effective healthcare delivery. Substantial limitations of implementing effective telepsychiatry services in Nigeria are (a) inadequate power supply both at homes and in hospitals and (b) lack of telemedicine facilities in primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare institutions in Nigeria, because most Nigerian hospitals and physicians do not have the facilities and expertise to deliver telepsychiatry services.

In conclusion, a need exists to implement and support telepsychiatry services in Nigeria, both by the public and private sectors. Moreover, the Nigerian government should invest in mental healthcare delivery, by equipping healthcare facilities with the latest technology system, encouraging young doctors to specialize in psychiatry, and training mental health personnel in telepsychiatry, in such a way that office appointment could be substituted with telehealth consultation in the era of COVID-19 pandemic.


  Financial Support and Sponsorship Top


Nil.


  Conflicts of Interest Top


There are no conflicts of interest in writing this letter.



 
  References Top

1.
Okechukwu CE. Shortage of psychiatrists: a barrier to effective mental health-care delivery in Nigeria. Int J NonCommun Dis 2020; 5: 22-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Schuh Teixeira AL, Spadini AV, Pereira-Sanchez V, et al.: The urge to implement and expand telepsychiatry during the COVID-19 crisis: early career psychiatrists' perspective. Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment 2020; 13: 174-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Ramalho R, Adiukwu F, Gashi Bytyçi D, et al.: Telepsychiatry during the COVID-19 pandemic: development of a protocol for telemental health care. Front Psychiatry 2020; 11: 552450.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Smith K, Ostinelli E, Macdonald O, et al.: COVID-19 and telepsychiatry: development of evidence-based guidance for clinicians. JMIR Ment Health 2020; 7: e21108.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Sasangohar F, Bradshaw MR, Carlson MM, et al.: Adapting an outpatient psychiatric clinic to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic: a practice perspective. J Med Internet Res 2020; 22: e22523.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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