We define e-health as the use of ICTs, locally and at a distance, to strengthen health systems and address public health priorities.
E-health has the potential to increase the efficiency of health systems and to improve access, especially in remote areas, for marginalised or excluded populations, people with disabilities and the elderly. It can be used to improve service quality, and can also reduce the cost of health care delivery by reducing redundancy and duplication and introducing economies of scale.
E-health is being promoted by the Commonwealth Secretariat as support to the ongoing efforts to strengthen health systems.
An acute shortage of health care professionals in many countries, limited resources and high-profile efforts to address diseases - such as malaria and HIV - has made e-health a top priority.
E-health is a key tool to address the health related Millennium Development Goals, in particular the eighth goal – developing a global partnership for development. The Commonwealth Secretariat is exploring opportunities of introducing technologies to improve access to health, strengthen management information systems and train health personnel.
Our work focuses on:
- Providing technical input on the e-health status in member countries; providing templates to be used by member countries to develop their e-health policies and strategies, facilitating discussions, developing the agenda, and promoting exchange of information between IT and Health Ministers.
The first dialogue was held between the East, Central, and Southern African Health Community and the Southern African Development Community in October 2008. Ministers commented on their country’s needs, priorities, plans and opportunities for establishing new partnerships.
- Developing e-health policies and frameworks and conducting reviews. The Health Section provides templates to be used by member countries.
- Studying the status of e-health in Commonwealth countries. This study will follow up on surveys conducted in 2007 and incorporate findings from ministries responsibile for IT. The study will identify the gaps and needs in e-health development which will help the Secretariat tailor its e-health activities.
- We develop and distribute publications to communicate the strengths of current policies, strategies, good practices and the status of e-health.
- We are developing policy briefs and updates on our e-health activities.