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Washington, D.C., February 25, 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — The pilot phase of the Educational Virtual Clinic begins this year with the aim of improving the clinical competencies of family and community health teams in indigenous and remote areas.

Using telemedicine tools, the Educational Virtual Clinic will facilitate second opinion consultations, questions to specialists, and discussions of clinical case diagnoses. This space will also have an eLearning platform and a gallery for sharing clinical images for teaching purposes.

During the pilot phase, specialists from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and the United States will manage these virtual health services. The four countries selected for the pilot phase to receive services are Bolivia, Jamaica, Panama, and Paraguay.

The ministries of health in the receiving countries are responsible for designating the geographic areas and populations and for identifying the health centers and professionals in both first-level and specialized services who will make up the educational telemedicine network for the purposes of the pilot phase.

The Educational Virtual Clinic is also designed to build capacity in participating countries by identifying local counterparts of the international specialists.

The specialties covered in the pilot phase are cardiology, dermatology, nursing, epidemiology, obstetrics and gynecology, diagnostic imaging, family medicine, internal medicine, pathology, pediatrics, and pneumology.

The initial testing period will make it possible to evaluate the organizational, methodological, technological, and financial feasibility of this initiative, providing the information and experience needed prior to implementation in 2014.

The Educational Virtual Clinic is being implemented within the framework of the regional eHealth and eLearning strategies of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and is one of the main projects of the Organization's Virtual Campus for Public Health (VCPH).

The VCPH is a network of people, institutions, and organizations that share courses, resources, and information, education, and knowledge management activities with a view to enhancing the skills and practices of the public health workforce through the use of information and communication technologies that improve health education programs. It is also a PAHO technical cooperation tool for networked education in the Americas.

The Virtual Campus has been made possible through the support and commitment of the Governments of Canada, Spain, and Cuba and the contributions of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and the Cuban National Health Care Telecommunications Network and Portal (InfoMed).

This initiative responds to the strategic area 4 of the Strategy and Plan of Action on eHealth in the Americas, which seeks to promote "knowledge management, digital literacy, and education in information and communication technologies as key elements for ensuring the quality of care, health promotion, and disease prevention activities, guaranteeing training and better access to information in an equitable manner."





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