The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu discusses eHealth as “the great equalizer” and its ability to improve the human condition at the Global Ministerial Forum for Research on Health in Bamako, Mali. This is in continuation to the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored conference series at its Bellagio Center fromJuly 12-August 8, 2008, titled “Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partnerships, Local Solutions.” eHealth is the use of information and communications technology to improve health systems performance. Countries globally seek eHealth solutions. International institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Commonwealth Secretariat, the G8, European Union, the Commission for Africa and the Health Metrics Network have established eHealth action plans and programs. Despite advancements, substantial questions remain regarding the best strategies for eHealth system design, funding, implementation, and capacity building, particularly in developing or “Global South” countries. During the event, over 200 leaders from the healthcare, technology, finance, policy, and government sectors discussed how to leverage eHealth to advance health services, particularly in low-resource settings. They explored the subjects of: Public health informaticsInteroperability and standardsAccess to information and knowledge-sharingeHealth capacity buildingElectronic health recordsmHealth and mobile telemedicineUnlocking the eHealth marketsNational eHealth policies. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored the “Making the eHealth Connection” conference with international partners from leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization, American Medical Informatics Association, International Medical Informatics Association, United Nations Foundation, Health Level Seven, Vodafone Group Foundation, Health Metrics Network, Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information, Partners in Health, Public Health Institute, Regenstrief Institute, the Telemedicine Society of India, and the University of Washington’s Center for Public Health Informatics. Following four weeks of groundbreaking conversation, conference participants agreed upon a set of needed actions and policy priorities that should guide the development and implementation of global, national, regional, and local eHealth and health systems. These recommendations were consolidated into the Bellagio eHealth Call to Action, which represents stakeholders’ substantial commitment to improve health and decrease disparities in health care worldwide through sharing of appropriate practices, building capacity, and promoting innovative eHealth solutions. International field leaders from a broad range of disciplines are signing onto the Bellagio eHealth Call to Action, and you are urged to do so today. Bellagio eHealth Call to Action signatories are committed to: – Timely, consensus-based global agenda-setting- A rational policy process for eHealth- Adequate and coordinated funding- Fostering collaborative networks and action platforms- Knowledge-sharing and capacity building- Interoperable eHealth demonstration projects.This document will be taken to global institutions, individuals, and governments with the power to change eHealth policy and practice, for review and consideration. Please review and add your signature to the Bellagio eHealth Call to Action. Momentum is gathering and we urge your support. Review and sign the Bellagio eHealth Call to Action here:

You can view the video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Bamako conference here:

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