National eHealth strategy development: country experience and next steps (2012)

Developing a national eHealth programme is a goal of many countries. A national eHealth programme can contribute to reaching health and development goals and, for some countries, will constitute a major step towards implementing recommendations such as those of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals: Target 18 (In co-operation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications) and Recommendation Three of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health (integrate the use of Information and Communication Technologies in countries’ national health information systems and health infrastructure). Experience has shown that harnessing information and communication technologies (ICT) for health requires planning at the national level, to make the best use of existing capacity while providing a solid foundation for investment and innovation. Establishing the main directions, as well as planning the detailed steps needed, is key to achieving longer-term goals such as health sector efficiency, reform or more fundamental transformation.

As the major United Nations agencies for health and telecommunications respectively, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have recognized the importance of collaboration for eHealth in their global resolutions, which encourage countries to develop national eHealth strategies. Towards that goal, the two agencies have collaborated to develop a National eHealth Strategy Toolkit – a comprehensive, practical guide that all governments, their national ministries, departments and agencies can adapt to suit their own circumstances and goals.

With a view to supporting national eHealth strategy development WHO is inviting a representatives from the ministries of health and ICT to a meeting in Geneva from 25-26 July 2012 to launch the WHO-ITU National eHealth Strategy Development Programme, share experiences and lessons learned from national eHealth strategy development efforts and identify stakeholders’ (donors, international/regional organizations, Ministries of Health/ICT) roles in supporting national eHealth strategy development.

Invited participants from government include senior staff in charge of information and communication technology and/or in charge of eHealth activities in the ministry. Other invited participants include experts and partners from professional and industry associations, aid agencies, foundations, and international and regional development organizations.