The Health Internet: Global status, trends, emerging issues and policy responses
Today’s health Internet embodies a wide range of benefits, reaching beyond those related to individual consumers and health care practice to the international stage. In many countries the public is actively seeking health information and embracing online communities, products and services for health and wellbeing. Health institutions are part of this trend, as records are networked and encounters with the health system can increasingly take place online.
The growth of the health Internet has also led to new forms of risk. For example, the illegal promotion and sale of medicines (including counterfeits, adulterated or unapproved drugs) and other products poses a risk to health and undermines legitimate trade. New types of fraud include the sale and use of health data of individuals and groups. Although health care is a highly-regulated industry at the national level, health on Internet requires new forms of cooperation and governance at the international level.
For example, the sharing of essential health information for collective action in emergencies (such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and so on) demands a much greater emphasis on managing the health Internet as a global public good. Similarly, today’s technological capability to share and analyze diverse data from many sources requires a secure and trustworthy Internet, supported by policies that facilitate innovation and international research on complex, multi-disciplinary challenges such as Alzheimer’s disease.
WHO and partners are organizing a series of consultations in 2012-2014 to better address these challenges. Policy makers, academics, industry, research institutes, international organizations, health professional and consumer associations, and other stakeholders will be invited to review the global status, trends, emerging issues and policy responses during 2012-2014 on health Internet topics including quality and safety, online sale of pharmaceuticals, medical applications, crowd-sourcing in humanitarian assistance, and large-scale health research collaborations.