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Washington, D.C., 13 March 2013 (PAHO/WHO)—The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) today launched its first technical cooperation program on digital literacy together with the Ministry of Health of the Province of Río Negro, Argentina.

Digital literacy is the set of skills, knowledge, and attitudes that a person needs in order to develop functionally within the Information Society. This program seeks to strengthen the collective and individual capacity and competency of health workers in the Province of Río Negro through continuing education in the use of information technology and communication and in methodologies for knowledge management and the preservation of institutional memory in public health.

The program will enable health workers and institutions to be interconnected and to access appropriate knowledge in a timely manner for better decision-making in evidence-based health, and to improve health services for the population. The new competencies acquired by staff members will also strengthen the process of institutional modernization by adding effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency, which are among the government’s objectives with this innovative program that was presented to the PAHO/WHO Country Office in Argentina.

Using virtual classrooms facilitated by PAHO/WHO, the program’s courses and seminars began in November 2012 with more than 75 staff members from the Río Negro Ministry of Health. The virtual classrooms are among the innovative tools in PAHO/WHO’s Regional Knowledge Management and Communications Program.

Minister of Health addresses those participating virtually.

Participants in the launch of the program included the Minister of Health of Río Negro, Norberto Delfino, PAHO/WHO Representative in Argentina, Paolo Balladelli, the PAHO/WHO Manager of Knowledge Management and Communications, Marcelo D’Agostino, and other staff members of both institutions and from hospitals in the province.

Minister Delfino thanked the Organization for its support and pointed out the importance of the virtual classrooms facilitated by PAHO/WHO. He also noted the importance of information technology and of communications in general for their potential to “bring together the geographies, minds, and spirits of the workplace in taking on the challenge to collectively improve health for all.”

PAHO/WHO Representative Paolo Balladelli expressed his satisfaction in seeing the development and strengthening of technical cooperation in the province since the first meeting between the authorities from both institutions, and he reinforced his commitment to support the province.

PAHO/WHO Manager of Knowledge Management and Communications Marcelo D’Agostino explained that the digital literacy program is the first that PAHO/WHO is launching as a technical cooperation program on the continent. He added that through the lessons learned, which should and will be documented, the experience will be exported to the rest of the Americas. Finally, he gave special recognition to Myrna Marti, Regional Adviser on Knowledge Management, for having brought the concept to PAHO/WHO.

The virtual meeting led to the first course in a series on digital literacy that will be presented remotely. The course was presented by David Novillo, PAHO/WHO Adviser on Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning, who pointed out some of the necessary skills for making the work of health professionals more efficient through the use of tools for access to information.  

By way of example, he mentioned the importance of fully understanding the Internet search engines in order to create a personal information strategy, select sources and designate distribution mechanisms, and participate actively in virtual communities so as to be in contact with other people to discuss topics and seek assistance. He also explained the concept of the “invisible Web.”

Through the Virtual Campus for Public Health, PAHO/WHO also offered a digital literacy course entitled “Access to Sources of Information and Social Networks” that is free and open to the public.

Strategic Area 4 of the PAHO/WHO eHealth Strategy and Plan of Action aims 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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