During the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Library of Medicine and the launch of the Virtual Library on Food Safety and Nutrition, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) presented for the first time in Honduras the regional strategies on eHealth and Knowledge Management and Communications.
Professionals from a variety of disciplines attended the event, including representatives from PAHO/WHO, the State Secretariat of the Office of the Presidency, the National Agriculture University, the National Library of Medicine, and the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP).
At the opening of the event, the PAHO/WHO Representative in Honduras, Gina Watson, said that one of the objectives of the Strategy and Plan of Action on Knowledge Management and Communication is to turn archives, libraries, and documentation centers into knowledge management hubs to encourage health promotion and democratic access to knowledge, preserving the scientific, technical, and cultural heritage of public health and use of new technologies for digital inclusion.
In a virtual presentation, Marcelo D’Agostino, Manager of Knowledge Management and Communication at PAHO/WHO, referred to the benefits of these two strategies, maintaining that a national project, such as a specialized virtual health library, enjoys greater “political penetration” if it is backed by a regional framework. He added that these strategies have been unanimously approved by health authorities in the Americas.
David Novillo, Adviser for Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning at PAHO/WHO, presented the Strategy and Plan of Action on eHealth for the Region. He emphasized that PAHO/WHO supports the Member States in developing national public policies on eHealth and in introducing information and communication technologies into national health plans.
In order to include the various stakeholders in this process, Novillo noted that PAHO/WHO is promoting the organization of national intersectoral forums involving the civil service, private sector, and civil society.
“To date the Organization has provided technical cooperation on eHealth in 16 countries,” said Novillo. “In Costa Rica, for example, we have supported the creation of a national intersectoral forum that brings together authorities from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Technology, and the Social Security Fund.” The forum resulted in the first draft of a national eHealth strategy for Costa Rica, among other outcomes. Examples from the Dominican Republic and Argentina were also highlighted.
During the question-and-answer period, the participants emphasized the high penetration rate of mobile phones in Honduras and expressed interest in learning more about mHealth. Health through the use of mobile devices, or mHealth, is one of the components supporting the regional eHealth strategy.
In this regard, D’Agostino underscored the importance of “inviting organizations in the telecommunications arena to the table to dialogue.” He pointed to the example of the Government of Haiti, which negotiated with the country’s telephone companies to allocate toll-free numbers for public health issues during emergencies.
At the end of the event, D’Agostino thanked the participants and invited them to acquaint themselves with the experience of Miraflores in Peru, a municipality that has created safety initiatives using mobile and social networks.
This activity supports Objective 1.3 of the regional strategy on eHealth: "Support the establishment of an intersectoral national network (civil society/public network/private network) to participate in the formulation of eHealth policies and standards, as well as decision-making in that area."