LAHORE - Health experts speaking at Third International e-Health Conference at University of Health Sciences on Saturday have called for a fundamental shift in the way information is accessed and shared across the health system in Pakistan.  The two-day conference is being organized by e-Health Association of Pakistan and the theme of the conference is “Road to National e-Health Strategy for Pakistan”.

The speakers said, “The health system in Pakistan is straining to deal with increasing cost and demand pressures and a shortage of skilled healthcare workers. We have to move away from a reliance on tools such as per, paper and human memory to an environment where patients, care providers and healthcare managers can reliably access and share health information in real time across geographic and health sector boundaries. The only way this can be achieved is through formulation and implementation of world class e-Health policy”.

Around 400 participants including medical students, Information Technology experts, health providers, policy makers and international experts on e-Health from Canada, United States, Britain. Switzerland, Spain, East Africa, Nepal, Philippines and Afghanistan were participating. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Punjab Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman said the government was taking all measures as it deemed necessary for the administration, promotion, development and use of information technology in the province. Punjab government is providing free laptops to 100,000 brilliant students currently studying at public sector colleges and universities as a part of Chief Minster’s e-Youth Initiative.  He announced to make eHealth an essential part of the curricula of various professional courses at UHS.

The World Health Organization’s regional focal person for e-Health, Hani Farouk from Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO), Cairo, Egypt, said that e-Health should be viewed as both the essential infrastructure underpinning information exchange between all participants in a healthcare system and as a key enabler and driver of improved health outcomes.

Addressing on the occasion President eHealth Association of Pakistan (eHAP) Dr. Haroon Roedad Khan said that the conference was dedicated to Arfa Karim Randhawa to honour her exceptional work and her efforts in the field of information and communication technology. He announced that “Arfa Karim Gold Medal” would be awarded every year to the best paper on eHealth.