Ms. Chaitali Sinha. Program Officer, Mr. Matthew Smith. Program Officer of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
What characteristics of the eSAC project make it interesting from the standpoint of IDRC?
For IDRC, the eSAC project embodies innovation with regards to its model, approach and techniques.Covering a wide spectrum of integrated activities, eSAC includes competitive grant process to provide incentives for innovative eHealth solutions within the domain of public health. In addition, the project simultaneously seeds and nurtures a fertile ground for eHealth policy and practice across Latin American. For example, it will support a group of young professionals from the region who will be placed at PAHO offices to champion greater eHealth awareness, engagement and dialogue. These young professionals will act as a conduit between the research, innovations and policy and help build awareness and engagement among the eHealth community in their specific region. The eSAC model represents a combination of practice, policy and applied research that both promotes new innovations within this rapidly evolving and dynamic field, while leveraging existing networks of individuals, organizations and knowledge.
What other lines of work or projects in eHealth is IDRC working on in the world?
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) provides research grants to individuals and institutions in the developing world to find solutions to their social, economic and environmental problems. IDRC has been funding eHealth research for nearly a decade. These funded activities range from exploratory proof-of-concept studies to large multi-country research networks examining the relationship between eHealth solutions and health outcomes. Supporting eHealth research through networks has allowed IDRC and its recipients to apply lessons from earlier projects, to foster collective experience and capacities, and to provide a nurturing environment for dialogue, peer mentorship and growth. Indeed, these experiences have shaped the model, approach and techniques to be used within eSAC.
Two examples of eHealth research networks funded by IDRC include: i) Open Architectures Standards and Information Systems Phase II (OASIS II) in Africa, and ii) Pan Asian Collaboration for Evidence-based eHealth Adoption and Application (PANACEA) in Asia. Both of these networks represent lessons applied from past IDRC support, as well as a response to pressing health needs and ICT landscapes in the specific region. OASIS II is based on open principles and data standards and is designed to gather evidence and experiences on how to move away from information silos organized vertically by disease and toward an interoperable system in which data is made easily available to those who need it - including care providers and public health officials - through a common enterprise architecture. PANACEA is a network of researchers that are gathering evidence of how eHealth solutions influence health outcomes through methodologically sound and locally relevant research studies. Information about these and other IDRC-supported eHealth projects can be accessed at www.idrc.ca.
What opportunities can you identify as a result of the joint effort with PAHO?
Working with PAHO opens up many opportunities for the eSAC project team (which also includes the University of Toronto's Centre for Global eHealth Innovation), as well as for the eHealth community in the LAC region. For instance, the knowledge resources at PAHO provides a vast pool of resources for the eSAC network to draw upon, and to contribute back to through iterative learning, analysis and documentation as well as providing a critical direct link between the policy-making and research communities . Supporting the young eHealth professionals is also a unique and especially significant opportunity that is only possible through a partnership with PAHO. We expect that supporting the young professionals will yield short-term benefits through enhanced engagement and awareness among key eHealth constituencies in the region. Moreover, these individuals can represent a catalytic body of individuals that form the foundation of ongoing knowledge brokering between the developers, implementers and users of the eHealth solutions.