BOX 3-4 Improving Connectivity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In an ideal world, everyone in the field of global health would have access to the digital tools needed to benefit from global research advances. In reality, of course, low- and middle-income countries lag far behind the advanced economies in access, despite some improvements, such as the use of the Internet and mobile technologies. For example, only 4 percent of the sub-Saharan African population uses the Internet, as opposed to 74 percent in North America (World Bank, 2007). Continued commitments are clearly needed for long-term investments in infrastructure to bring more people around the world “online.” A unique opportunity now exists for the U.S. government and other donors to invest in information technology and infrastructure that would encourage more efficient communication among the multiple players in the global health arena. The following actions are required to facilitate such connectivity:

  • Industries, governments, and universities that control routes of communication over the Internet through cables or satellites should develop procedures for sharing these routes with global health programs and activities that have inadequate resources, especially in countries with weak digital infrastructure.
  • Funders of global health programs and activities should ascertain the digital support available to personnel and repair any deficiencies that impede communication or performance.
  • Research teams, global health practitioners, and meeting organizers should support virtual collaboration and strive to take advantage of Internet-based convening opportunities, such as Webinars and interactive websites, to reduce the time and expense involved in traveling to meetings.
  • The U.S. government and other funders of research should provide incentives for the adoption of available technologies that allow connectivity between the field and medical personnel for diagnosis, surveillance, and delivery of health care. They should also aggressively support the research and development of transformational technologies that would help close the digital divide by allowing data transfer to benefit public health.

From: 3, Generate and Share Knowledge to Address Health Problems Endemic to the Global Poor

Cover of The US Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the Public and Private Sectors
The US Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the Public and Private Sectors.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the US Commitment to Global Health.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009.
Copyright © 2009, National Academy of Sciences.

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