Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, 15 July 2015 (PAHO/WHO) - This week, as part of the Workshop on Building eHealth and Knowledge Management Capacities, a group of experts from PAHO reviewed the toolkit that WHO provides as an instrument for building a national health strategy, and as a guide for generating dialogue to adapt the toolkit’s elements to national realities.

Thanks to the workshop, a network of PAHO focal points will be in place that can serve to strengthen representativeness in technical cooperation on eHealth and Knowledge Management throughout the Region, and to promote its expansion in the Region.

eHealth supports health by offering cost-effective and safe use of information and communication technologies for health and health-related areas, including health care, health surveillance and documentation, education, and knowledge and research on health.

The workshop was designed to enhance the capacity of PAHO/WHO to facilitate the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of national eHealth and Knowledge Management strategies.
Making use of the document “National eHealth Strategy Toolkit,” which was created by WHO and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the meeting’s participants examined the steps needed to develop a national eHealth vision, to create a roadmap for implementation of a strategy that reflects a country’s priorities and eHealth context, and to establish a national eHealth program, including a monitoring and evaluation component.

Available to all the Member States, the toolkit offers a framework and methodology for developing the vision, action plan, and monitoring system for eHealth at the national level. As a practical tool with step by step guidance for the development of eHealth, it is directed at government departments and agencies, and in particular at ministries of health and ministries of information and communication technologies.

eHealth is of great importance for strengthening universal health coverage, as PAHO Advisor David Novillo explained: “The purpose of a strategy of this type is to contribute to the sustainable development of the Region’s health systems. Its adoption represents an effort to improve access to health services, as well as their quality, through the use of information and communications technologies (ICT), training on digital literacy and ICT, access to information based on scientific evidence, ongoing training, and implementation of a range of methods that facilitate progress toward more informed, equitable, competitive, and democratic societies.”

The meeting also analyzed knowledge management methodologies, tools, processes, and policies that are being developed in the information society for health institutions, so that they can be put to use in technical cooperation activities. The methodologies reviewed include:

  • Developing communities of practice
  • Lessons learned
  • How to conduct effective virtual meetings
  • How to begin writing a scientific article
  • How to effectively develop virtual discussion forums
  • How to improve scientific writing in the public health field
  • How to organize and preserve institutional memory
  • How to approach functioning in the information society

The workshop’s participants included staff members in charge of eHealth and Knowledge Management at the PAHO/WHO offices of Argentina, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, and Panama.