ICT can bridge the gap between existing health systems and universal health coverage, but it’s a complex process and every country has its own challenges.
When the Conference on Measuring and Achieving Universal Health Coverage with ICT in Asia Pacific wrapped up earlier this month, the 290 participants could head home knowing that it had been time well spent. Not only did they share their experiences as health systems administrators and managers, they also left with a bigger network, and a commitment to taking concrete steps to use information and communications technology (ICT) to help their countries move closer to universal health coverage.
It was gratifying, as one of the co-organizers together with colleagues from World Health Organization and the Asian e-Health Information Network to see this process unfold. The conference was designed to get people talking in small groups, actively learning from each other, consulting together to hammer out what needs to happen for health systems to fully harness the benefits of ICT, and it culminated in a vote on what the 10 most important next steps are.
ADB is committed to increasing health investments in the coming five years and those investments have to go where the organization can have the biggest impact. One of ADB’s key strengths is its ability to convene disparate organizations and foster partnerships.
This conference was a prime example of effective collaboration among partners to capitalize on each other’s strengths. The knowledge that was gained in the conference room will not just travel back home with the participants. ADB’s health team learns from this process too.
The 10 next steps agreed to at the meeting will also inform a forthcoming joint ADB/WHO policy brief on using ICT to promote and measure progress towards universal health coverage.
ICT can bridge the gap between existing health systems and universal health coverage, but it’s a complex process and every country has its own challenges. We need to know from the people who are closest to the respective health systems to ensure that ADB’s commitment to supporting the goal of universal health insurance continues to hit the mark.