LAHORE: Countries around the world are turning towards eHealth to enhance healthcare service delivery and Pakistan should do likewise, said speakers on the closing day of the International Conference on eHealth at the University of Health Sciences on Sunday.
Developing countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Rwanda have taken steps towards revolutionising their health sector through the use of eHealth, which refers to the use of information and communication technology in the provision of healthcare services.
The experts praised the presentations given by local scientists and noted that Pakistan had substantial experience with eHealth applications in small to large scale pilot projects.
But in order to effect sustainable development in the field, the government needed to make a strategic commitment in this direction and take all stakeholders along, said the experts.
They said that it was important to develop a national eHealth strategy and make it part of a new health policy. They said that the conference would help raise awareness of the benefits of good eHealth practices and to develop a roadmap for future development.
The 2012 eHealth Conference was dedicated to IT prodigy Arfa Karim Randhawa, who recently passed away aged 16 of complications from epilepsy. An award for the best presentation at the conference was named after her. It was handed to the winner by her father Lt Col (retired) Amjad Karim Randhawa.
Around 400 delegates, including students, IT professionals, healthcare providers, policy makers and others attended the event. The international participants included people from Canada, the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Spain, East Africa, Nepal, the Philippines and Afghanistan.
The speakers at the conference included Education Minister Mian Mutaba Shujaur Rehman; University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Prof Malik H Mubashar; Esther Ogara, director of eHealth at Kenya’s Ministry of Health; Hani Farouk, the World Health Organisation’s eHealth focal point for the Eastern Mediterranean region; Dr Richard Scott, director of global eHealth strategy at the University of Calgary, Canada; Dr Asif Zafar Malik, head of surgery at the Holy Family Hospital; Dr Haroon Khan, president of the eHealth Association of Pakistan; Dr Hammad Durrani, general secretary of the eHealth Association of Pakistan; Dr Shariq Khoja, director of eHealth at Aga Khan University, Karachi; Dr Syed Aun Abbas, CEO of the IT Ministry’s National Information and Communications Technology Research and Development Fund; and Dr Sania Nishter of HeartFile.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2012.