Opening up public health: a strategy of information and communication technology to support population health
Author(s)/Editor(s): Reidpath D D, Allotey P
Publisher/Organizer: The Lancet
Publication date: Volume 373, Issue 9668, 21 March 2009-27 March 2009
“Information saves lives because it is fundamental to public health practice. Strategic decisions for the benefit of populations cannot be made without such information. As a part of the routine activities of public health, information is created, obtained, analysed, synthesised, manipulated, and transferred. The information could be as unassuming as a memorandum sent to colleagues, as routine as the collection of vital statistics, or as crucial as the manipulation of the national health accounts.
The volume and complexity of knowledge and information have outstripped the capacity of health systems to function at their best without the support of information management systems. Consequently, electronic information and communication technology (ICT) has become indispensable.1
Despite the importance of ICT to public health, most of us barely give a second thought to it. We take for granted the instruments that facilitate our functioning, except with occasional irritation when they fail us. However, important resource implications are associated with our neglect. Globally, billions of euros are spent every year on proprietary software to support the management of public health information. And the money is spent at every level, from national governments, non-governmental organisations, UN organisations, and research institutions, down to private individuals.”
1 SY Kwankam, What e-health can offer?, Bull World Health Organ 82 (2004), pp. 800–802