Strategic thinking on ICT and health

Strategic thinking about ICTs in health is developing as an extension of strategic thinking about ICTs in development. Donor support for ICTs in development (ICT4D), and increasingly on mainstreaming ICTs within development activity, is documented in a number of key policy documents. Some donors have also developed information platforms for advocating ICT4D internally and externally, these often present strategic thinking as well as case studies. Key analytical documents commissioned by donor organisations also provide valuable policy guidance.

The research for this list was carried out by a team of researchers working on an infoDev contract to explore the use of ICTs in the health sector in developing countries. The research team was led by a consortium involving Healthlink Worldwide, AfriAfya and the Institute for Sustainable Health Education for Development. Source welcomes additions to this list. Please email any resources you know to be useful (such as printed materials, websites, CD-ROMs, programme evaluations, organisations) to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org.

Selected resources

Strategic thinking on ICT and health

Health e communication

THE COMMUNICATION INITIATIVE

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The Communication Initiative (CI) website provides information on communication and development experiences and thinking, facilitating horizontal linkages between people engaged in communication action, peer commentary on programmes and strategies and taking opportunities to promote strategic thinking on communication and development issues and problems. The health window provides a point of entry themed on health communication. The 'evaluation' section of the health window signposts to useful examples and case studies of evaluation

ICT and health [chapter] | ICT and MDGs : a World Bank Group perspective

WORLD BANK GROUP
December 2003

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This article explores the impact of ICTs on health care within developing countries. Topics covered include research and training of health-care workers, achieving health-related MDGs, and storing and disseminating health information. Details are also provided of selected World Bank-funded projects

Las nuevas tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones en salud

FERNÁNDEZ GUTIERREZ, Floirán
2002

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The impact of the new information and communications technologies on the health sector is described, with emphasis in those areas related to the performance of all the professionals and technicians of this sector. Reference is made, among other things, to health news, telemedicine, Virtual Health University, Virtual Health Library, Health Sciences Subject Headings, Virtual Clinic, health surveillance, telesurgery, health research, and international cooperation in the health field. The novel aspects of these technologies are stressed as well as practical advice to incorporate them in the daily work of academic or health assistance institutions. Due to its nature, this paper serves to improve the knowledge and the cultural level of any reader

The digital pulse : the current and future applications of information and communication technologies for developmental health priorities

FEEK, Warren
2003

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Analyses the hopes and realities of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) in health and development programmes. Includes a Top 10 of strategic issues and gaps, and an overview of ICT for development (ICT4D). Sixty case studies document programme experiences of using ICTs in four areas: database and resource centres; social development, education and advocacy; networking and dialogue; and telemedicine and high medical tools. Recommendations include: prioritise local content and the voice of local people; integrate ICTs with other communication technologies and methods; engage with overall ICT trends like internet cafes and mobile phones; pay attention to structural issues like pricing, access and controls; take advantage of the interactive elements of ICTs to create a space for dialogue; evaluate the impact of ICTs on health; acknowledge the improvements to health when there is more equitable access to information and knowledge through the new technologies; incorporate ICTs into ongoing programmes; and support the vital role of intermediaries

Strategic thinking on ICT for development

CIDA's strategy on knowledge for development through information and communication technologies

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (CIDA)

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A report on the Canadian International Development Agency's strategy on Knowledge for Development through ICTs. The strategy is intended to ensure that local ownership is achieved through consultative processes involving government, civil society, and other groups within developing countries to decide how ICTs can best serve their country's economic and social development

Discovering the 'magic box' : local appropriation of information and communication technologies (ICTs)

MICHIELS, Sabine Isabel
VAN CROWDER, L
2001

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This paper discusses the lack of empirical evidence or analyses of local information and communication technology (ICT) applications, and their impact on people's social and economic lives. While there is a lot of information about the potential benefits of using ICT to alleviate poverty and promote equity, the lack of monitoring and evaluation in this area means that guidelines for the effective deployment of ICT, and its appropriation at the local level, have not evolved

Eldis : the gateway to development information

ELDIS

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ELDIS is a gateway to information on development issues, providing free and easy access to a wide range of high quality online resources. It provides summaries and links to online documents. It also offers a directory of websites, databases, library catalogues and email discussion lists, and an email news service that can bring the latest research to your mail-box. Its resource guides offer easy access to information on a wide range of subjects

Financing ICTs for development : efforts of DAC members. Review of recent trends of ODA and its contribution

DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE COMMITTEE (DAC). OECD.
2005

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This report provides policy-oriented analysis of donor support for information and communication technologies for development, with particular attention to recent trends in bilateral ODA commitments for ICT infrastructure as well as other ICT assistance. This analysis is illustrated with an abundance of statistical charts, highlights and annexes. The study furthermore seeks to analyse the rationale of the donors and other stakeholders to withdraw from the ICT infrastructure support in the 1990s and shift to integrating ICT components into development assistance projects and programmes. New forms of multi-donor partnerships are appearing not only as a joint financing mechanism but also as a platform for exchange of experiences and learning among donor institutions

Good ICT practices

DANIDA

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This excellent website presents case studies, good practices, policy insights and guidance on implementation regarding ICT in development activities. It includes 'lessons learned' sections dedicated to ICT in health, agriculture, education and business, and a well-researched 'key documents' listing. Background information and definitions are clear and well-presented, offering a thorough introduction to the topic and sensitive analysis. Designed for use by DANIDA staff and partners, it will be useful to other donors, policy-makers, programme planners and implementers throughout the development sector

Good practice paper on ICTs for economic growth and poverty reduction

BATCHELOR, Simon
SCOTT, Nigel
et al
2005

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This report aims to give an overview of what DAC members currently know about how information and communication technology (ICT) use in developing economies can stimulate economic growth and poverty reduction. It draws attention to the cross-cutting applications of ICTs, to their role as tools, not goals, and links their use to development co-operation

iConnect Online

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The iConnect website provides case stories, news and critical articles which discuss issues in ICTs for development. It seeks to promote exchange of experiences and knowledge on the use of information and communication technologies for development. Partly funded by the Building Communication Opportunities (BCO) initiative, iConnect draws content from its partners, links resources and expertise and encourages collaboration. Searching for the term 'health' in the search box retrieves over 200 resources. These range from short reports to project briefings, case studies and online discussions

Information communication technologies, poverty and empowerment

SKUSE, Andrew
2001

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Provides a framework for pro-poor ICT based initiatives, in the context of globalisation and the rights to information and freedom of expression. Discusses 'old' versus new and emerging ICTs, concluding that the lure of technological and infrastructural solutions has tended to divert attention away from ICTs that poor people actually use - but that the convergence of old and new ICT presents opportunities. Suggests that donors should support the private sector and governments in developing pro-poor strategies. Advocates careful strategic planning and judicious use of appropriate media in every communications initiative

Integrating information and communication technologies in development programmes

November 2003

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This report summarises how ICTs can help combat poverty and promote development, how to integrate ICTs in development programmes, how ICTs can be adapted for the needs of the poor in developing countries and what the roles are of donor nations and the OECD/World Summit on Information Society. It specifically stresses the need for ICTs to be incorporated into broader development strategies

Internet and society in Latin America and the Caribbean

BONILLA, Marcelo
CLICHE, Gilles
Eds
2004

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The research contained in this book is designed to foster discussion about the policies and actions that must be promoted for building an Internet culture in Latin America and the Caribbean based on the principles of social and cultural equity. The book also includes the results of development work on two information tools: the first is designed to facilitate mediation of the Internet's social impacts, and the second to develop a citizen habitus among children

Revisiting the "magic box" : case studies in local appropriation of information and communication technologies (ICTs)

BATCHELOR, Simon
O’FARRELL, Clare
2003

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This book looks at the way communities and groups in developing countries are appropriating information and communication technologies (ICTs) to address their needs. It finds that ICTs are being integrated into wider community-based activities and adapted to fit different contexts. It follows on from the paper "Discovering the Magic Box". It finds that there are still few examples of community-driven and locally appropriated ICT initiatives and an absence of standards or guidelines to evaluate ICT-based projects. The book includes some analytical frameworks and indicators to identify good practice and evidence of impact A significant development has been in the growth of telecommunications, in particular mobile phones, that are relatively cheap and powerful tools for poor communities, even in remote areas. The book concludes that the power of oral communication through telephones and radio cannot be underestimated. The book proposes that the main challenge is to adapt the new, usually computer-based ICTs to the needs of poor, predominantly oral-based communities so that they can be appropriated effectively and quickly

The significance of information and communication technologies for reducing poverty

MARKER, Phil
MCNAMARA, Kerry
WALLACE, Lindsay
January 2002

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A study for DFID staff, and for policy consideration, about the role of ICT in development. Identifies and assess the links between information and poverty, and concludes that although spreading ICT ('bridging the digital divide') should not be an end in itself, there is enormous potential for ICTs to increase information flow and empower poor people. The study then discusses the potential role of the international community, and sets out specific recommendations for DFID. Includes several appendices containing: a bibliography; brief case studies of Chile, Costa Rica and India; and list of related DFID funded projects. The study concludes that ICT should not be viewed as an end itself but has the potential as a tool to increase information flows and empower people. It can play a part in achieving International Development Goals

With the support of multitudes : using strategic communication to fight poverty through PRSPs

MOZAMMEL, Masud
ODUGBEMI, Sina
Eds
2005

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This book is timely and relevant. It makes the crucial point that while building support for Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) is vital to success, such support will not happen without planned, deliberate and sustained efforts to involve the citizenry in an open and inclusive process of two-way communication. This is what is meant by strategic communication. The book gives case studies from all over the world, provides good graphical analysis to prove findings. It was produced in order to improve the chances of success of PRSs in two ways; to show policymakers how strategic communication can help them to achieve some of their objectives in formulating and executing effective PRSs; and to give those actively engaged in the execution of PRSPs guidance on best practice as well as lessons from a community of practice spread around the world