Timely, accessible and credible health information is critical for improving public health outcomes, whether to help people take action during an outbreak or to prevent illness. Increased access to the Internet and mobile communication combined with strategic uses of social media can bring public health information to many more people, more quickly and directly than at any time in history.
Access to information and communication technology (ICT) is growing every year in all regions of the world. About one in four people globally are using the Internet.
It’s a United Nations Millennium Development Goal target and the World Summit of the Information Society has vowed “to connect villages … health centres and hospitals with ICTs” by 2015.
As access improves, people are increasingly using the Internet to find health information.
Where Internet access is low or connection speeds are slow, the rapid growth in the use of mobile phones and other devices promises increased mobile broadband access.
There are more than four billion mobile phone subscribers globally, two-thirds of them in developing countries, with the fastest growth on the African continent.
Multiple mobile or “mHealth” projects are being piloted. The potential to use mobile phones for public health information is enormous.
Social media, a great information equalizer, is radically transforming the way people communicate around the world. Instant and borderless, it elevates electronic communication to near face-to-face. Until recently the predominant communication model was “one” authority to “many” – i.e. a health institution, the ministry of health or a journalist communicating to the public. Social media has changed the monologue to a dialogue, where anyone with ICT access can be a content creator and communicator. Health professionals should ensure that information is correct and accessible.
See on www.who.int