How can ICTs help address health challenges in low- and middle-income countries?
The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) within health systems is often referred to as electronic health – or simply eHealth. IDRC’s dual focus on strengthening capacity and influencing policy has shaped the variety of eHealth research supported for over a decade. These projects explore if, how, and in what contexts ICTs can be used to address health challenges in low- and middle- income countries.
To help chart a strategic direction for its work in eHealth till 2015, IDRC commissioned an evaluation of its past work and key trends in this area. Led by Patricia Mechael and a team of health research and evaluation consultants, the evaluation was conducted August 2010 to January 2011 in close collaboration with IDRC staff and grantees.
The team looked at 25 eHealth projects funded between 2005 and 2010. Almost half were in Africa, where IDRC first began this work, followed by almost a third in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the remainder in Asia. A handful of these projects represent networks of several sub-projects. Three were considered to have a global focus.
The results will provide guidance as IDRC moves its focus in eHealth research support from regional to global, with greater emphasis on governance, health equity, and health systems strengthening. Recommendations from the evaluation will help IDRC take stock of and learn from past experiences, consider current eHealth and health systems strengthening trends, and establish its niche in this vibrant field of research.
This report provides an overview of the evaluation and presents key findings, lessons learned, case studies, and recommendations that can be adapted and applied by non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and donor agencies involved in promoting eHealth in low- and middle-income countries.