Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cuban health informatics congress opens

The VI Congreso Internacional de Informatica en Salud (6th International Congress in Health Informatics) began at 10:00 this morning (Tuesday, 13 February) in the Palacio de Convenciones de La Habana, Cuba (Convention Palace, in Havana). The opening session is well-attended, with about 100 people, and while the opening presentations have been in Spanish, there is also simultaneous translation into English.

The opening presentation, titled 'Informaticization en el Sistema Nacional de Salud de Cuba' (Informaticisation in the national health service in Cuba) was given on behalf of the Vice Minister for Public health, who is away in India. Are developing software systems for national health system. The presenter explained how in Cuba they are using free software for web services, eg the Infomed website (Health Telematics network – which connects institutions and other facilities such as virtual university and virtual library. Much of work is joint projects between Ministries of Public health and of Informatics and Communications.

Other projects include linking the national network of blood banks, to give realtime information on blood donor status and a national registry. A national network for imaging is also being developed, for transmission of a range of image types. First stages of hospital management systems have been developed, with a number of modules. The system is due to be rolled out to six hospitals in Havana. Other networks, including the national nephrology network, are being developed.

At present, projects are being used by technicians, for testing the development, with a view to moving towards use by health professions, and then by the general public in the later stages.

18%Cuba's GNP dedicated to public health.

One of the Vice Ministers, in response to a question comparing the business models of health systems in other countries, emphasised that in Cuba, health is not a business, but is a 'public good'.

More on the day later. Peter Murray

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