April 2006

Health is wealth

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Health is a broad issue, so is the use of ICT in this sector. Health is a parameter of social development which is associated with many other socio-economic factors of any nation. Let's see how health issues are, to a great extent, related to other social issues.

We know that child mortality, maternal health and HIV/AIDS are the sectors which have been specially emphasized by Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) also. Sex determination and female foeticide and infanticide may affect the progress in reduction of child mortality in many regions. Child marriage and violence on women must have an impact on maternal health, and unwanted or forced sex may increase the risk of HIV infection. Therefore, a proper understanding of gender inequalities is very much required to promote the health issues like child mortality, maternal health and sexually transmitted problems like HIV/AIDS. At the same time, health issues broadly indicate the urgent need of promoting women empowerment also.

On the other hand, another major issue that needs to be immediately addressed is the awareness generation about the health related problems and their origin. For example, the blood related diseases like Thalassaemia etc are still not so known to many of the people and many a times, unnecessary rumors arise regarding the same. Here we must remember that health is a sensitive issue with which our ethical sense is very much associated. If a leprosy patient gets hatred from own society, he/she automatically may lose the moral strength to survive with the help of treatment.

Apart from the social issues, some functional issues are also associated with the issue of health. Health systems cannot function effectively without the help of well trained and adequately paid staff. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa shortage of such staffs is so acute that they limit the potential to scale up programmes aimed at achieving health-related MDGs. This issue must be addressed and actions are required to be taken to ensure proper training of health workers and also their job security.

Policies and Programmes on health must be framed within a broad developmental framework that must prioritise growth with equity, social cohesion, social protection, empowerment of the poor, and protection of natural resources. The strategies for improving health should be firmly rooted in entire public policy and its implementation aimed at poverty reduction. In this context ICT has started playing a remarkable role in many countries. This issue will tell you about some of the interesting initiatives. 

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