ASEAN delegates call for prioritization of eHealth

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – ASEAN delegates urge for the inclusion of eHealth as one of the priority areas in Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity (MPAC), ASEAN Health Plan, and ASEAN Plan of Action for Science and Technology and Innovation (APASTI) during the Learning Interaction of eHealth Technologies in ASEAN conference which was held on 7-8 December 2017 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

In line with the 50th ASEAN celebration, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and the Institute of Philippine Culture – Ateneo de Manila University (IPC-ADMU) supported by the ASEAN National Organizing Committee, organized the conference to understand prevailing policies, programs, and technologies on eHealth and health data governance in the ASEAN region. Ehealth practitioners, government officials, and representatives from various sectors from Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines attended the conference.

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, PCHRD Executive Director, said that the Philippines has long been challenged by constraints in accessibility and availability of healthcare services and information, for this reason, DOST-PCHRD initiated the eHealth program to serve as one of the country’s primary strategy to reform the current healthcare system.

During their presentation, representatives from Thailand - Ms. Natsuda Kasisopha, Indonesia - Ms. Kincana Sari and Nurillah Amaliah, and Philippines - Dr. Anna Teresa de Guzman cited similar challenges in implementing eHealth policies and programs such as internet connectivity (infrastructure), interoperability of available technologies, and human resource capacity building.

To address these challenges, participants of the conference proposed some actions to move forward which include the following: development of guidelines and process flows specific to local health system adoption of eHealth systems that factors in governance, technical, and technology adoption issues; organization of fora for sharing the best practices and research and development on eHealth programs among the ASEAN member states; collaboration on the development of programs and research projects; and focus on eHealth as one of the priority areas in major plans.

The delegates hoped that through these initiatives, eHealth policies and programs in the ASEAN region will be in harmony and delivery of health services and management of health systems will be more efficient and effective.

The ASEAN eHealth concept note and plan of action presented by Ms. Charity Tan of the Department of Health and the evolving framework of the ASEAN health data governance and eHealth policies presented by Dr. Dennis Batangan of IPC-ADMU were also discussed during the conference.