Washington, D.C., 24 July 2012 (PAHO/WHO) – Today, during his visit to the Headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Minister of Social Affairs of Estonia, Mr. Hanno Pevkur, shared public health experiences in Estonia that could be lessons learned for the Americas and other regions.
After welcoming and thanking the Minister for his presentation, the PAHO/WHO Deputy Director, Dr. Jon Andrus, applauded Estonia for its achievements in public health over the past years. “Estonia has an excellent program based on primary care, with a family physician at the center, supported with other medical staff,” said Dr. Andrus. “Also, its national insurance program seems to be providing health for all.”
Upon the Minister’s arrival, the Minister expressed a keen interest in learning more about the Organization’s approach in supporting Member States, in particular how PAHO/WHO provides technical cooperation in terms of health systems strengthening, capacity development, and eHealth.
In its recent health systems reform, Estonia adopted national public health programs, including a National Health Plan (2009-2020), which now integrates cardiovascular diseases’ interventions and policies, Tuberculosis Prevention (2008-2012), Prevention of Drug Use (until 2012) and others.
Moving forward at a quick pace, Estonia is a model for its implementation of projects in eHealth, which is the use and application of information and communication technologies in public health. “We even call our country eEstonia,” said the Minister jokingly. “Estonia has five nationwide eHealth projects, including electronic health records, digital images, digital prescription, and though still in progress, also e-ambulance and digital registration for service providers.” Already 100% of pharmacies have joined the digital prescription system and 71 percent of the population has electronic health records.
Mr. Pevkur explained that data security will always be of concern when switching to electronic health records. “But I must say that when I have my medical records on paper, I never know who looks at my papers or copies them,” he stated. “With electronic health records, when someone accesses my data, I can see all my logs. Simply, when you’re connected, you can have better results.”