The Telemedicine Task Force, started in Brussels, Belgium, in January 2006, has completed an assessment of the future role of information technologies in Africa. At a meeting held in Botswana on March 1, the group — composed of representatives from the World Health Organization of Geneva, the European Commission of Brussels, the European Space Agency of Paris and African organizations — concluded that satellite-based technologies could help improve the health of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa and made several recommendations to this end. In a pilot project proposal, the task force outlined plans to improve the performance, strength and number of personnel in the African health work force. A second proposal focused on accessibility to clinical services through increased health coverage and through expansion into isolated regions. The final plan aimed to strengthen the intelligence-gathering capacity of health systems as well as their ability to use this information for decision making. The results of the initiative will be used to help develop a framework for extending health-related communications networks in the sub-Saharan region. Funded by the European Development Fund, the larger effort will comprise one component of the European Union Strategy for Africa.
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