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PAHO/WHO Virtual Seminar Series: eHealth in the Americas

Knowledge and information sharing among PAHO member states and stakeholders is one of the key elements of PAHO's eHealth Strategy.  The seminar series "eHealth in the Americas" aims at contributing to the debate by featuring different themes of relevance and key players working on eHealth globally.  It promotes knowledge sharing among people and institutions as well as convergence in the implementation of eHealth National Strategies and plans of action.  It also seeks to inform public health stakeholders and other decision makers in the health sector so that they can better take part in the debate.

“The strongest medicine for increasing efficiency in the public sector is technology.”

--Miguel Porrúa, Organization of American States, at the PAHO/WHO e-Health Seminar

Washington, D.C., January 16, 2013 (PAHO/WHO) – Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are tools for transforming public administration, stated Miguel Porrúa, Senior e-Government Specialist at the Organization of American States (OAS), during the virtual seminar “eGovernment and its importance for eHealth,” held by PAHO/WHO on 16 January 2013.

Launching the event, the manager of Knowledge Management and Communications at PAHO/WHO, Marcelo D’Agostino welcomed the 80 participants connected from more than 20 countries and thanked Porrúa for his contributions to both the seminar and the development of the PAHO/WHO Strategy and Plan of Action on eHealth for the Americas.

“This is the second in a series of seminars that brings together major leaders from around the world who can guide the ministries to ensure transparency and align eGovernment and eHealth initiatives,” stated D’Agostino.

Porrúa thanked PAHO/WHO for the invitation and for including the OAS in this activity. “My role is to link eGovernment with the work being done at PAHO and with people working in health in the Region to encourage reflection and inspire thought and action for the good of the Region,” he explained to the participants.

According to the OAS, eGovernment is the application of ICTs to operations in the public sector to boost efficiency, transparency, and citizen participation. Both e Government and e-Health facilitate access to services by using ICTs to accelerate national development.

“When properly used, ICTs have proven to be the best catalyst for efficiency in the public sector,” commented Porrúa.

During his presentation, he described the relationship between eGovernment and eHealth and stressed that political support and investing in human and financial resources are key to progress in both areas. He recommended documenting best practices in the Americas and developing policies that create an enabling environment for innovation.

The eGovernment specialist provided examples from the Region of the Americas, where progress in e-Government has translated into progress in eHealth. He cited Chile--where legislation has been enacted on the protection of personal information, digital signature, electronic documents, and open-source data--and Colombia, where a digital literacy program to train civil servants has been placed on the nation’s digital agenda.

In their closing remarks, D’Agostino and Porrúa agreed that civil society is the protagonist. Citizens must take the lead to advance the use of technologies in public health and public administration in general. “Enterprising citizens are the ones who know how to turn a need into a service,” said Porrúa.

The Virtual Seminar Series on eHealth in the Americas is part of Strategic Area 4 of the Strategy and Plan of Action on eHealth for the Americas, which identifies knowledge management, digital literacy, and training in ICTs as key elements for ensuring quality care, health promotion, and disease prevention activities, guaranteeing training and better access to information in an equitable manner. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation supports implementation of the eHealth Strategy.

 

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Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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