The report has been realized for the Millennia2015 International Conference, UNESCO, Paris, 3-6 Decem ber 2012. This work is a collaborative and participative contribution to the Foresight Research on the variable V08 “Women and eHealth: connected medical knowledge benefiting all”, conducted at the Destree Institute, Namur, Belgium and provides the results of the investigation on Women, Health and ICTs.
Based on the data collected, the study has considered four dimensions of the roles of women in eHealth:
1. Women as Beneficiaries (WB): Women are at the core of family healthcare in communities and have the greatest need to have access to and use ICTs for their personal health and that of their family members.
2. Women as Healthcare Professionals (WHP): Women are at the frontline, of family care in their role as healthcare workers in communities. They require ICTs to facilitate effective communication with other healthcare workers, with doctors, and patients.
3. Women as ICT professionals (WICT): Women are the engineers and technicians who develop innovative and adapted devices and applications that help reach the most isolated settings and communities.
4. Women as Leaders (WL): Women advocate at all levels, from raising new opportunities to partnering with the private sector, collaborating and networking, improving funding mechanisms, and leading eHealth initiatives in communities.
Proposed ICT Solutions
1. Radios and Televisions: WB, WHP
Radios and TVs continue to play a major role in the dissemination of health information and should be incorporated with mobile phones and Internet services to reach more women.
2. Mobiles, tablets, and other electronic devices: WB, WHP
mHealth or mobile health shows interesting results but remains limited to pilot projects that hardly expand at national and regional levels. Most women who received health related SMSs on their mobile phones prefer messages delivered by voice, using voice commands. An example of this speech-to-text application is the iPhone’s “Siri”, in which the user only has to be able to speak, not to read or write. Incoming messages could have a text-to-speech option, so that messages are “read” out loud to those unable to read.
3. Telemedicine: WHP
Telemedicine remains a “male” sector at all levels: medical, technical, and engineering. Women are beneficiaries as patients where such services are made available, yet just a few female doctors, nurses or midwives are active in Telemedicine services.
4. Free Call Lines: WB
Many WeHealth members emphasized the need to promote the adoption of free call lines that enable women to reach health centers and health service workers. These lines can be used in particular to support women living in difficult situations, such as domestic violence, natural disasters, war/conflicts, and as refugees.
5. Alternative energy solutions: WB
Where energy is scarce or unreliable, local solutions using solar or wind power show promise. Young girls in India have found a urine-based solution to provide enough energy for mobile phones.
6. One of the most cited areas of interest to women (WB) is receiving regular information on maternal and child health, family health, disease control, HIV/AIDS, malaria,
cancer and vaccination. Full report