Washington, D.C., 10 April 2013 (PAHO/WHO) – Information and communication technologies (ITCs) applied to health—such as telemedicine, mHealth, and electronic health registries—can “improve access, efficiency, and quality of services,” said Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, in an editorial in PAHO/WHO’s latest eHealth electronic newsletter.
“Telemedicine initiatives are helping us to reach vulnerable and isolated populations and provide them with health services,” noted Etienne. “This enables us to overcome the geographical barriers that hinder access to health care and, at the same time, expand coverage and improve the continuity of care.”
PAHO/WHO is promoting eHealth in the Americas through a five-year strategy approved by the Organization’s Member States.
Etienne, a physician and surgeon from Dominica who is committed to promoting universal health coverage in the Americas, noted that the countries of the Region “have already integrated the use of ICTs into their health systems and services to improve access to health care and promote efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency in the decision-making process.”
Etienne cited as examples the use of text messaging systems that facilitate health emergency preparation and response, as well as other initiatives that are increasingly linked to electronic health records to strengthen health information systems and provide high-quality personalized care.
Information on risks during pregnancy and on healthy choices is another example of content distributed by SMS as a way of getting educational messages to the population.
The latest issue of the PAHO/WHO eHealth newsletter also contains an interview with Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), as well as news on a new digital literacy program in Río Negro, Argentina, and information on the challenges in human resources education in the context of the information society.
The digital publication, supported by Spain’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), also announced that PAHO will be holding a regional consultation on data standardization and interoperability with eHealth on 23-24 April 2013 in Lima, Peru, and that WHO will convene a meeting on innovative health technologies.
The newsletter also includes information on an application developed by WHO and UNICEF for national immunization systems, the experience of Health Caravans, a telemedicine initiative in Mexico, recommended readings, news reported in the media, and announcements of events.