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Innovative Uses of Technology to Improve Health for Poor and Vulnerable People to be Explored at Rockefeller Foundation Conference.

Global Consensus and New Partnerships Sought to Improve Health Systems in Developing Countries

NEW YORK, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Accelerating innovative applications of emerging digital technologies to improve the health of poor and vulnerable people around the world -- a field known as eHealth -- will be the main topic of a major international conference hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation. The conference, Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partnerships, Local Solutions, will take place from July 13 to August 8, 2008.

Working with twelve leading organizations from the fields of global health, international development, and information and communications technology (ICT), the Rockefeller Foundation and its partners will bring together luminaries from industry, government, and civil society as well as donors and researchers at its Bellagio Center in Italy. The action-oriented agenda will focus on how deploying eHealth and ICT in health systems can improve the access, efficiency and quality of health services. Importantly, the conference focus is on the Global South-developing countries-where health infrastructure and capacity challenges loom large and eHealth technology, a lynchpin in modern health care systems, is at a tipping point. The conference will set the stage for long-term sustainable collaboration in the eHealth field.

"The emerging field of eHealth seeks to harness the power of ICT to strengthen health systems and help billions of people access affordable health care," said Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. "We believe that Making the eHealth Connection, this summer's conference at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, can dramatically advance efforts to meet this critical challenge by building the necessary coalitions and resources."

Participants at the month-long Making the eHealth Connection conference will engage in intense high-level discussions that aim to advance learning on new solutions, needed breakthroughs and scaling current barriers. Critical eHealth issues will be discussed in eight targeted conference sessions: The Path to Interoperability, Public Health Informatics and National Health Information systems, Access to Information and Knowledge-sharing, Capacity building for eHealth, Electronic Health Records, Mobile Health (mHealth) and Mobile Telemedicine, National eHealth Policies and Unlocking eHealth Markets.

Two parallel sessions will take place each week, from July 13 to August 8, 2008. The overarching goal of the conference is to develop support for workable solutions and to give new impetus for collaboratively funding, designing and deploying eHealth systems in the Global South and around the world.

The Rockefeller Foundation has partnered with a number of leading institutions in order to organize the conference, including the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA), Health Level Seven (HL7), Health Metrics Network (HMN), Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME), Partners in Health (PIH), Regenstrief Institute, Telemedicine Society of India, United Nations Foundation (UNF), Vodafone Group Foundation Technology Partnership, University of Washington's Center for Public Health Informatics, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tim Evans, MD, Assistant Director-General for Information, Evidence and Research at the World Health Organization (WHO), and a Making the eHealth Connection summer conference series organizer, said, "This event is an important landmark. It shows global commitment to eHealth's role in health systems, underscoring the World Health Assembly resolution on eHealth in 2005, and is intended to support WHO's efforts to promote equitable access to essential care worldwide."

Professor Krishnan Ganapathy, Founder Member and Joint Secretary of the Telemedicine Society of India, and one of the conference organizers, said, "The conference's focus on the nexus of eHealth and the Global South is notable. Given the rapid spread of mobile communications technologies, this conference should provide timely information to and learnings from several countries in the Global South, such as India, that have committed resources to developing and deploying eHealth technology, and are interested in learning how mobile technology and telemedicine are converging. Developing countries can now leap frog, not even piggy back. We hope this will illuminate a path for others to follow."

"This effort comes at a critical moment," said Don E. Detmer, MD, MA, President and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), and a conference organizer with the collaboration of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA). "As a long-time proponent of eHealth and informatics for improving care for patients and populations, this initiative offers a rare opportunity for us to share perspectives as we seek to integrate a set of complex requirements so that coordinated progress can occur across borders. We must effectively address our shared global health disease, capacity-building, and workforce challenges, most especially in the Global South. AMIA is delighted to be working with the Rockefeller Foundation on this sound initiative to bridge a significant global leadership gap."

Making the eHealth Connection underscores the Rockefeller Foundation's commitment to unleashing human capacity and technological innovation to benefit poor and vulnerable people around the world. The conference extends the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center's tradition of bringing together people of diverse expertise and cultures in a neutral and thought-provoking environment to promote international understanding and encourage innovation and creativity.

For more information on the Rockefeller Foundation's Making the eHealth Connection conference organizers, schedules and topics please visit the eHealth Connection at http://www.ehealthconnection.org/. This interactive website -- a window into groundbreaking discussions and developments -- contains vital conference information. During the conference, the website will feature frequent blog posts about conference proceedings, video clips and interviews with key event organizers and participants.

The Rockefeller Foundation was established in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., to "promote the well-being" of humanity by addressing the root causes of serious problems. With assets of more than $4 billion, the Foundation supports work around the world to expand opportunities for poor or vulnerable people and to help ensure that globalization's benefits are more widely shared.

For more information about the Rockefeller Foundation, please visit The Rockefeller Foundation at http://www.rockfound.org/ .

CONTACT: Michael Cowan of The Rockefeller Foundation, +1-212-852-8412, mcowan@rockfound.org

Web site: http://www.rockfound.org/ http://www.ehealthconnection.org/
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