Alliance to promote e-Health in Latin America and the Caribbean
Foto: Flickr/GotCredit (CC)
Guida Fullana

The Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization's Regional Office for the Americas and Specialized Health Agency of the Inter-American System (PAHO/WHO), and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya's (UOC) Faculty of Health Sciences have come to an agreement to work together to promote e-Health in Latin America and the Caribbean. The agreement has been signed by Josep A. Planell, President of the UOC, and Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the PAHO/WHO.

The agreement establishes the functions and responsibilities governing cooperation between the two institutions in planning, designing and developing educational, research and knowledge dissemination activities in the field of e-Health in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the provision of support and strategic counselling to the various networks created by each institution. Thus, with the signature of the framework agreement, the PAHO/WHO formally becomes a part of the two research, teaching, development and technology and knowledge transfer networks that the UOC has in Latin America, CICUT (Latin American University Collaboration Cluster in Telemedicine) and RITMOS (Ibero-American Network for Mobile Technologies in Health); likewise, the UOC formally becomes a part of the ICT4Health Network, the PAHO/WHO's e-Health Network whose members are e-Health representatives from the Member States and focal points from the PAHO/WHO's national offices.

In addition, David Novillo, Coordinator of the PAHO's e-Health Programme, and Francesc Saig, Director of the Faculty of Health Sciences' Telemedicine Programme at the UOC, will assist in promoting and developing new courses and educational workshops in e-Health targeting health professionals in the Americas, and will explore new avenues for collaboration in e-Health research projects with universities, hospitals and other health organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the field of education, the PAHO/WHO is assisting in tutoring the final projects for the UOC's University Master's Degree in Telemedicine and in facilitating students' mobility during their internship and teaching staff's access to the PAHO/WHO's offices, with the goal of fostering priority research lines in e-Health for the Americas region.

The ultimate aim of this alliance is to increase the level of technical assistance provided to the region's governments in the field of e-Health, within the framework of implementation of the PAHO's e-Health Strategy, and the PAHO/WHO's Action Plan (2012-2017) and Strategic Plan (2014-2019). According to the World Health Organization, e-Health consists of the delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities; and, according to the Pan American Health Organization, knowledge management provides the means for fostering individual, social and political changes that are conducive to attaining and maintaining health, by means of a dynamic process that addresses the variables of information access, knowledge production, dissemination and training.

The PAHO/WHO is an international public organization with a track record of more than 110 years of work and experience in improving the health and standard of living of the people of the Americas and which also acts as the World Health Organization's Regional Office for the Americas. The UOC is a university born from the knowledge society whose mission is to facilitate lifelong learning, using new technologies to overcome time and space barriers. The UOC's goal is to enhance people's creativity and contribute to social progress by sponsoring research on the knowledge society.