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Progress on eHealth in a Global Context

At its 132nd session, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed a progress report on the global implementation of the 2005 resolution on eHealth (WHA58.28).  Key topics included standardization and interoperability in eHealth, on the exchange of health data, and challenges associated with the establishment of the dot health Internet domain name. The Secretariat also reported on current initiatives to strengthen the protection of the name of intergovernmental organizations on the Internet.

The progress report highlighted resolutions adopted by the Executive Board and the regional committees; among these, the resolution adopted in the Americas in 2011, which endorsed the strategy on eHealth and approved the plan of action.

The Executive Board also discussed global initiatives that have encouraged countries to integrate the use of information and communication technologies in health.  For example, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health recommends that by 2015 all countries will have integrated the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in their national health information systems and health infrastructure. To this day, globally, 72 national eHealth strategies and plans have been developed.

Since 2005, the WHO Global Observatory for eHealth has studied the evolution and impact of eHealth in Member States with the aim of providing information on trends and developments in effective practices in eHealth. The global survey for 2013 will focus on the use of eHealth for women’s and children’s health.

All regional offices are supporting countries to develop or revitalize their national eHealth strategies, and are also supporting the evaluation in selected countries of such strategies.

To support governments with the development and implementation of eHealth policies, WHO in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) published the National eHealth Strategy Toolkit last year.

Both organizations also worked together to make available a collection of best practices and lessons learnt in eHealth implementation around the world.  The WHO Regional Office for the Americas, known as the Pan American Health Organization, has also created the first Laboratory on eHealth for the Americas, which offers a space for the Region that encourages research, promotion and debate of the objectives and strategies on the application of ICT to public health.

Based on a model created by the Latin American and Caribbean Centre for Health Sciences Information (BIREME), a Virtual Health Library was developed, and adapted to local conditions.4 The Virtual Health Library has been used in Latin America for more than 15 years with an interface in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), made up of 34 delegates from WHO Member States, met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Jan. 21-29 to define the agenda for the upcoming 66th World Health Assembly (WHA), 20–28 May 2013.The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, and advise and generally to facilitate its work.

 

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eHealth Program
Department of Knowledge Management, Bioethics and Research
Pan American Health Organization
525 23rd ST NW, 20037, Washington DC, US
Email: ehealth@paho.org

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663
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