Ehealth solutions in the African Region current context and perspectives
Abstract1. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines eHealth as the cost-effective and secure use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for health and health-related fields. ICT provides a range of technologies for gathering, storing, retrieving, processing, analysing, transmitting and receiving data and information. These include radio, television, mobile phones, computer and network hardware and software, as well as the services and applications associated with them, including videoconferencing and distance learning. eHealth is an umbrella term that covers a variety of areas such as health informatics, digital health, telehealth, telemedicine, eLearning and mobile health.2 2. EHealth can contribute to health systems strengthening in several ways by improving the availability, quality and use of information and evidence through strengthened health information systems and public health surveillance systems; developing the health workforce and improving performance by eliminating distance and time barriers through telemedicine and continuing medical education; improving access to existing global and local health information and knowledge; and fostering positive lifestyle changes to prevent and control common diseases. 3. Recognizing ICT’s significant developmental role and cross-cutting impact in regard to all aspects of national life, including health, an ICT-related target was included in Millennium Development Goal No. 8.3 The World Health Assembly resolution on eHealth, WHA58.28,4 noted the potential impact that ICT could have on health-care delivery. Subsequently the WHO Executive Board endorsed a set of activities to be implemented by the WHO Secretariat aimed at, among others, creating an environment that ensures data privacy, security and confidentiality, and improves interoperability.5 This included the establishment of the Global Observatory for eHealth to improve the evidence base and guide policies for integrating eHealth into health systems.
Regional Committee for Africa, 60. (2011). Ehealth solutions in the African Region current context and perspectives. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/1685