Global public health and the information superhighway.


Applications of networking to health care have focused on the potential of networking to transmit data and to reduce the cost of health care. In the early 198Os networks began forming among academic institutions; one of them was Bitnet. During the 1980s Internet evolved, which joined diverse networks, including those of governments and industry. The first step is to connect public health organizations such as ministries of health, the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization, and the United Nations. Computer-based telecommunication will vastly increase effective transmission of information. Networking public health workers in local health departments, academia, governments, industry, and private agencies, will bring great benefits. One is global disease telemonitoring: with new epidemiological techniques such as capture-recapture, accurate estimates of incidences of important communicable and non-communicable diseases can now be obtained. Currently all countries in the Americas except Haiti are connected through Internet. No systematic integration of telecommunication and public health systems across countries has occurred yet. On-line vital statistics could be usable almost instantaneously to facilitate monitoring and forecasting of population growth and the health needs of mothers and children. Linking global disease telemonitoring (morbidity data for non-communicable diseases) with environmental data systems would considerably improve understanding of the environmental determinants of disease. Internet is already linked to the National Library of Medicine through Bitnis. Computer based distance education is rapidly improving through E-mail searches. Reading materials, video, pictures, and sound could be transmitted across huge distances for low costs. Hundreds of schools are already networked together. On-line electronic journals and books have the potential for instantaneous dissemination of free information through gopher servers. Global public health needs to plan for a public health communication system that can reach all the public health workers in the world.

Cite this paper

@article{LaPorte1994GlobalPH, title={Global public health and the information superhighway.}, author={Ronald E. LaPorte}, journal={BMJ}, year={1994}, volume={308 6945}, pages={1651-2} }