NITDA huges Lagos to implement data protection in health sector

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has called on Lagos State to fully implement Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) to protect medical data of residents of the state.

A statement by NITDA Spokesperson, Hadiza Umar, said Mr Kashifu Inuwa, Director-General, NITDA made the call when he paid a working visit to the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, on Thursday in Lagos.

He commended the commissioner and his team on the proactive, professional dispositions with which the state handled and disseminated public information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the NDPR, a regulation issued by NITDA to protect data privacy and coordinate safe exchange of personal data, was built on international data protection principles of accuracy, limitation of use, security, confidentiality, availability and integrity.

According to him, it is a subsidiary law which limits abuse of power by data controllers as data subjects determine how their data should be handled.

“In line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution where big data, artificial intelligence, internet of things and blockchain technology are the key indices and parameters driving economy globally, it is important to review and improve on the credibility of datasets in health care.

“This is a sector which is data driven; medical informatics and data are the bedrock of clinical medicine and research.

“The adoption and implementation of the NDPR by the Lagos State Ministry of Health would make every patient in the healthcare sector trust the privacy and management of their personal information with the state healthcare sector.

“The sector will have a privacy policy that gives access to the type of personal information being collected, stored and processed by ensuring confidentiality, integrity and availability of personal data,” he said.

He reiterated that it was imperative to re-orientate health workers in the state on the importance of data privacy and proper disposal of medical wastes to avoid personal sample details being exposed to wrong persons.

Inuwa, however, noted that the full implementation of the NDPR would cost human, time and material resources but would have dividends.

“When you consider other technology inputs such as telemedicine, genetic research, electronic medical records, it would be obvious that healthcare would be one of the most technology intensive sectors in few years.

“By adopting and implementing the NDPR, you have begun the journey to a better and more appropriate use of technology in the healthcare sector.

“Lagos State would benefit a lot if people understand that the state health sector values personal data and makes efforts to protect it,” he said.

According to him, adopting the regulation in the sector, will boost health tourism and improve the quality of care in the state.

Abayomi, in his response, expressed confidence that the privacy of sensitive data in Nigeria which was under the supervision of NITDA was in excellent hands.

The commissioner assured that the state Ministry of Health, as custodian of the Lagos State Smart Health Information Platform, had ensured that their clients and partners were NDPR compliant in order to deliver an excellent and transparent service.

“We will continue to work very hard with NITDA to stick with the guidelines which have been propagated by the agency,” the commissioner said.

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