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ADB urges use of ICT in healthcare

Update: December, 08/2014 - 09:23
"Better use of ICT means better data and systems that improve the quality of healthcare while reducing the costs," Susann Roth, senior social development specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), said. — Photo newtel.vn

HCM CITY (VNS) — Information and communication technology tools are crucial for Asian governments to fast-track quality, affordable healthcare for all of their citizens, a regional healthcare conference heard in HCM City last week.

"Better use of ICT means better data and systems that improve the quality of healthcare while reducing the costs," Susann Roth, senior social development specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), said.

"And ultimately, good health makes for improved lives and sustainable and inclusive growth."

The conference, titled ‘Measuring and Achieving Universal Health Coverage with ICT in Asia and the Pacific,' gathered around 200 key government officials from health, social protection, finance, academia, and development organisations from over 25 countries.

They reviewed evidence on the cost, benefit, and impact of ICT solutions in improving healthcare monitoring and thus achieving universal health coverage more quickly.

The conference also aimed to help ADB's developing member countries strengthen their cases for strategic ICT investments to maximise the use of their healthcare budgets.

It was hosted by the ADB, the World Health Organization, and the Asia e-Health Information Network.

The ADB plans to boost annual funding for health-related projects to $400-$750 million dollars by 2020, around double the current level.

It is also developing a programme whose overarching goal will be universal health coverage, and ICT will play a big role in it.

The bank is already supporting ICT use to improve delivery of health services and ensure better data collection in Asia. For instance, it is financing the laying of fibre-optic cable in the Pacific and a related project to help Tonga use computer networks to provide healthcare services to patients who live far from hospitals and transmit X-ray images and other health data to specialists.

In Bangladesh and Laos, the ADB is helping collect patient data and collate them electronically to enable communities to better plan their health programmes.

ICT investments in Mongolia are improving hospital management and health financing by ensuring hospitals have all the data they need to make the best decisions. — VNS

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