The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), with Dr Lasisi Salami Lawal as the principal investigator, won the 2023 Impact in Society Award hosted by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) under the Healthy Lives segment. The winning team was comprised of the principal engineers from NIGCOMSAT, together with collaborators from the Federal University of Technology, Minna (host), Yale University School of Medicine, USA, University of Sussex; the UK, Brighton & Sussex Medical School; UK, Aviation Medical Clinic, Kaduna, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, the Nile University of Nigeria and Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that delivered digital health inclusion via NIGCOMSAT-1R.
The IET Impact Awards celebrate the achievements of institutions using engineering and technology to impact society positively. By recognising these achievements, the IET aims to inspire others to use their skills and expertise to make a difference in the world. NIGCOMSAT emerged as the winner among other finalists, including Wangi Lai PLT, Malaysia and the University of South Wales, which presented innovative solutions utilising technology for societal needs.
This award recognises NIGCOMSAT’s goal for sustainable development by leveraging development efforts in Africa. NIGCOMSAT solved the difficulties encountered in accessing and utilising telemedicine to its full potential: low literacy and language barriers. The company addressed this challenge through a team that served as intermediaries between the doctors and the patients. To ensure the success of the telemedicine project, NIGCOMSAT’s multidisciplinary team contributed expertise on communications technologies, satellite communications, medicine, software engineering, mechatronics engineering, health policy and management, amongst others, whilst demonstrating a viable advanced technological solution for telemedicine implementation.
Moreover, NIGCOMSAT also solved the gap between the digital approach to health care and the low literacy level by engaging local support staff who are crucial to the organisation and the local community. This also set the tone of a united team and served to improve healthcare operations. In addition, NIGCOMSAT worked to improve the integrated interaction and the flow of information among staff. The organisation guaranteed that the support staff had completed tertiary education. These were doctors who were high achievers in their respective fields who could utilise their software for knowledge sharing.
In conclusion, the NIGCOMSAT team demonstrated promising results, evident in the number of patients treated and the contributions to academia in the form of papers in conference proceedings and journals. Specifically, written contributions have been made domestically and internationally in the form of recommendations for the University teaching hospitals for telemedicine as well as in the National ICT strategy to drive digital health inclusion forward in both Nigeria and Africa in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Goal 3 for “Good Health and Well-being”.
Commenting on the uniqueness of NIGCOMSAT’s solution, Professor Bob Cryan, IET President, said: “At the IET, we know first-hand that engineers continue to solve many of the challenges facing communities across the globe – making a lasting difference to the world around us. These Awards celebrate the teams of ‘unsung heroes’ doing just that and truly celebrating the art of collaboration in engineering workplaces. I want to congratulate our winners – their work will show the importance of engineering to society, which will help inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians.”
About Impact in Society Awards
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a professional engineering institution based in the UK that aims to promote the advancement of engineering and technology for the benefit of humanity. The IET Impact Awards are annual awards that recognise individuals, teams, and organisations that have significantly impacted society through engineering and technology. Overall, these awards recognise those using engineering solutions to impact society positively.
Visit here for more information about the IET’s Impact in Society Awards.