Washington, D.C., 26 October 2012 (PAHO/WHO) – During the Ninth Regional Congress on Health Sciences Information (CRICS9), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) launches a mobile application that enables health professionals to make evidence-based decisions on student health, while on-the-go.
The new eGSHS mobile application provides access to data from the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS), which monitors students’ behavior related to: diet, physical activity, hygiene, alcohol consumption, drug and tobacco use, violence and unintentional injuries, sexual and reproductive health, and mental health. This is the first mobile application launched by PAHO/WHO.
PAHO/WHO, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and the Ministries of Health and Education, have used the survey since 2003 to monitor the behaviors that affect the health of students, ages 13 to 15, in more than 30 countries and territories in the Americas.
Thanks to the support of the Spanish Cooperation, health professionals can now easily visualize the latest findings from the survey, make comparisons among cities and countries, and share the information by email or through social networks –all from their mobile phones and tablets.
Mobile technologies are currently used in connection with a wide range of public health initiatives. The advantages of mobile technologies are vast, including availability, accessibility, innovation, cost-effectiveness, real-time access to information, and portability.
PAHO/WHO Director, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, stressed in her remarks during the CRICS9 inauguration, that access to reliable information and the exchange of health knowledge through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), "have been considered essential for health development" in the Americas. Dr. Roses also reaffirmed the commitment of the Organization with Member States to work in the dissemination of critical health information to the general public to enable them to make decisions favorable to their health.
The development of the eGSHS mobile application falls within the PAHO/WHO Strategy and Plan of Action on eHealth for the Americas. The regional strategy seeks to contribute to the sustainable development of health systems to improve access to and the quality of services, with the use of ICT.
Some components of eHealth, in addition to mHealth (or the use of mobile devices for health), are electronic health records, telehealth (including telemedicine), continuing education in ICT, and the standardization and interoperability between different technologies and software applications to exchange and use data effectively, accurately and robustly.
PAHO/WHO is currently working to develop mobile applications addressing other public health issues. The eGSHS app is already available for download, free of charge, from Apple’s Official Store in iTunes. Results from the GSHS survey can also be accessed through the PAHO/WHO website on students’ health: http://www.paho.org/saludyescuelas.
PAHO celebrates its 110th anniversary this year and is the world’s oldest international public health organization. It works with all the countries of the hemisphere to improve the health and quality of life of the peoples of the Americas and serves as the WHO Regional Office for the Americas.
The ninth Regional Congress on Health Sciences Information (CRICS9) held 22-24 October, in Washington, D.C., was organized by PAHO/WHO and its Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences (BIREME). With the theme "Reaching universal access to health", congress participants shared experiences and exchanged information on programs, projects, systems and networks on health sciences information and communications in the Americas.