Coronavirus (1295) Going beyond access to health information: a pandemic call to action

11 June, 2021

Dear HIFA members,

I fully agree with HIFA members Soumyadeep Bhaumik and Pranhab Chatterjee, who make the case below to 'systematically invest in efforts to understand the contexts of target audiences; to a priori define information needs granularly'. Meeting information needs must start with understanding those needs. As Soumyadeep and Pranhab point out, providing information that cannot be acted upon by the end user (whether because of literacy, language, education, agency, available resources, socioeconomic factors...) is unhelpful and can be counterproductive. By definition, information must be both reliable and relevant to meet people's needs. Citation and extract below.

CITATION: Bhaumik S, Chatterjee P. Going beyond access to health information: a pandemic call to actionBMJ Global Health 2021;6:e006472.

Correspondence to Dr Soumyadeep Bhaumik

About a decade earlier we brought to attention that the lack of access to health information is ‘a social injustice that the global health community cannot afford to ignore’1 and argued that governments are morally and legally obliged to ensure access to health information. Since then, a lot of progress has been made in the domain including the recent high-profile statement by the World Medical Association that health information ‘is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), and among vulnerable groups in all countries’. Others have also argued that access to health information is a key component of universal health coverage. In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen significant investments from multinational agencies, governments, non-profits and private actors to disseminate health information. However, a narrow focus on providing access to health information alone, without any investment or thought on how information can be translated by people to meaningful health outcomes, is proving to be counterproductive...

HIFA is currently working with partners to promote the concerted action that is needed to accelerate progress on meeting healthcare information needs as a fundamental component of the right to health. If you can help in this effot, please contact me:

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA project on COVID-19, supported by University of Edinburgh

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: