P43 - Knowledge: Key asset for improved health systems
One of the biggest challenges health professionals face in resource-poor countries is finding quality, relevant information. Although abundant electronic information is available and much of it is free of charge, it can only be accessed if there is a secure electricity supply, availability of a reliable Internet service, and ready access to computers and printers. Knowledge, however, may not function when disconnected from its context. Information will be useful only if it is: in a language user can easily read, is written at a level suitable for user, is relevant to local needs, and is delivered in a timely manner. Partners for Health Reformplus surveyed some 4,750 people worldwide in 2004 to confirm preferred language for receipt of information and to determine topics of greatest interest in an effort to gauge the usefulness of information provided, ascertain the level of connectivity of information users, and establish personal contact and solicit feedback by opening a two-way channel of communication. A r esponse rate of 14% provided input with the potential to serve as a compass for prioritizing future communication strategies and to widen information access. While the Internet provides one opportunity to narrow the information gap and allows users to access what is relevant versus what is provided, producers of information must continue to blend technology with traditional sources of information. Enhancing the flow of information to resource-poor countries is perhaps one of the most cost-effective ways to improve health care delivery and strengthen health systems and ultimately, to improve health and health equity.