Health & holistic care in the 21st and 22nd Century
Posted Feb 22 2010 12:00am
With the technical means at our disposal it is relatively easy to provide information to the masses. Facebook, Google and advertisers are increasingly better versed to target information not just our way, but your way.
Health education and preventive medicine programs depend on the dissemination of health and well-being information, that in turn also relies on access to an expanding digital infrastructure. Equality of access to information communications technologies is now the province of human rights and not just manifestos whether ambitious or binned.
There is much talk of trying to categorise the stage (and hence maturity) of our civilization: hence we talk about being in the information age.
In health care terms this is clearly the case. The provision of information is a key operation and goal of the UN and WHO as per the Millennium Development Goals. Amid the MDG and multiple other related initiatives we need to take care that the habits of many thousands of years do not dilute our efforts.
There is a danger that just as we have broadcast seeds to grow crops, we will repeat the exercise with technology's reach and so many seeds will fall on stony ground and so not take root and grow.
As people working in the development field know only too well, initiatives like Health Information for All by 2015 and national efforts are not just about the provision of information. In some respects that is not as big a problem as it once was (though is still presents a huge challenge) with community, urban and developmental informatics. Mobile phones and various technologies can get information to people. Increasingly though the problem is one of sufficient or extended literacy. This extends the conventional educational literacy and notion of the 3R's - Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.
What knowledge do I need about my health and that of the 'other' gender and ethnic groups with whom I share this 'home'. What knowledge do I need in order to live long and then be able to prosper and do so sustainably?
Allied with the problem of literacy is seeking the attention of individuals. This perhaps is why infant, primary and secondary schooling are so important - learning to attend is the most important lesson of all. Especially as health and well-being messages must compete in the multi-spectral communications channels polluted with so much dross.
The MDG make clear the above requirement in Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education 2.1. Net enrollment and retention in primary education 2.2. Proportion of pupils starting Grade 1 who also reach the last grade of primary education 2.3. Literacy rate of 15-24 year old #
With the requisite baseline - personalised literacies and the information that HIFA2015 and others can provide then individuals can achieve a level of health and well-being knowledge commensurate with living (and dying well) in the 21st century