ITU

Committed to connecting the world

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Commission on Information & Accountability for Women's and Children's Health
Remarks to Media


26 January 2011, Geneva, Switzerland


toure-health-commission.jpg

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me say what a great honour it is to have UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon present with us for this launch, and what a pleasure it is for me, as ITU Secretary-General, to participate in this important Commission, which comprises so many top-level experts in their fields.

This Commission represents an important step forwards in realizing the UN SG’s declared goal of improving accountability in health care projects worldwide.

I’m sure I do not need to convince any of you of the enormous benefits digital technologies can bring to information collection, dissemination and sharing.

But underlying this, of course, is the need for all the world’s people – wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances – to be connected.

And here, the news is excellent.

At the beginning of the year 2000, there were 500 million mobile cellular subscriptions globally and 280 million people around the world used the Internet.

By the beginning of this year, those numbers have mushroomed to over 5 billion mobile subscriptions and more than 2 billion Internet users.

Certainly, we still have far to go in delivering the affordable broadband access which is vital for really meaningful progress in digital health initiatives and programmes.

But these figures show that technologies already at our disposal, such as ordinary mobile telephones, can play an increasingly vital role in health care, as vehicles both for data collection and analysis, and for delivery of basic health services to communities.

Some of the members of this Commission are already well-advanced in implementing exactly these types of ICT-based strategies, and their experiences will be invaluable over the coming months as we work on this Commission’s final recommendations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Clearly, if we are going to be able to deliver ‘healthcare for all’ in this new century of connectivity, it will be through cooperation and partnership between the technology and healthcare sectors.

This Commission represents one of the key pillars of the Secretary-General’s new Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s health. Its outcome will serve as an important stepping stone towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

There is much to be done, but the potential for progress using today’s and tomorrow’s technologies is enormous.

I am confident that, with the calibre of people we have with us on this Commission, we will succeed.

Thank you.