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 Tuesday, 03 May 2011
ICTs at the service of women’s & children’s health

ITU highlighted the need for countries to develop coordinated national e-Health plans which leverage the power of ICTs, at the second and final meeting of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, which took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on May 1-2.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré served as co-Vice Chair of the Commission alongside Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation. The meeting approved 10 recommendations which, together, constitute a new framework for accountability and tracking of resources and results in the health sector.

The goal of the Commission is to improve transparency, ensure consistency in reporting and more effectively track resources spent on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, to accelerate progress towards Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 1c.

ITU is currently working alongside WHO to develop a modular e-Health toolkit that will help countries develop and implement scalable and sustainable programmes for integrating ICTs into national health strategies.

Even relatively simple ICTs like ordinary cellphones can play a transformative role in national health systems, facilitating data gathering, storage, sharing and analysis. In addition, new apps, such as a system to perform automatic remote diagnosis of malaria using a simple in-phone camera, could serve as powerful catalysts in extending access to diagnosis and treatment to people in isolated communities.

“With mobile connectivity now widespread in even the world’s poorest countries, ICTs offer a unique and powerful opportunity to bridge the health development gap,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré. “In addition to facilitating data analysis, platforms like the Internet and social media can also be used as tools to create safe and empowering spaces for women, where they can obtain accurate, up-to-the-minute health information in a confidential, multilingual environment.”

The Commission is a key element of the UN Global Strategy for Women's and Children’s Health, which aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children under five years of age by 2015.

Read more via our communiqué: Women & children to benefit from new recommendations to improve health accountability