Global Health and Bioinformatics Workforce Capacity Initiative to Be Led by AMIA and Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation

Saturday, June 7, 2008 General News
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BETHESDA, Md., June 6 A $500,000 grant has been awarded to AMIA from the Rockefeller Foundation to help convene a conference in collaboration with the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) on "capacity building in health informatics." The conference is part of the Foundation's "Making the eHealth Connection" conference series to be held at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Italy, beginning in July 2008.

Conference participants will include international and multidisciplinary stakeholders and representatives from diverse perspectives including academia, research, non-governmental organizations, and private sector organizations. Global growing demands for and the shortages of qualified and trained healthcare professionals, particularly in developing countries and transitioning economies where health problems and crises are prevalent, make this grant especially timely. Many countries' health care systems are challenged by workforce development issues, including inadequate numbers of qualified health workers, low retention, poor infrastructure, and lack of resources.

The grant will also help support AMIA's efforts to address the growing global workforce shortage and implement global health and bioinformatics education programs. AMIA's 20/20 program, launched in late 2007, seeks to further refine and develop the concept of an international distance learning continuing education program in biomedical and health informatics. 20/20 is chaired by NT Cheung, head of IT for the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. The program is envisioned to apply distance learning approaches and communication and educational technologies to create globally appropriate, sound educational offerings delivered through a network of professional health informaticians. Training will include activities and offerings for various disciplines, community health workers and lay persons.

"AMIA's work with IMIA, the Rockefeller Foundation, and many other organizational partners around the world is potentially 'world-changing' for health and healthcare," said Don E. Detmer, MD, MA, AMIA President and CEO. He continued, "This grant sets the stage for planning a set of collaborations with some developing economies in the Global South that will support global education in the knowledge and skills relating to practical applications of biomedical and health informatics."

"This funding gives real substance to our strategic plan to help support the development of sound biomedical and health informatics in developing nations," said AMIA Chairman, David W. Bates, MD, MSc. He added "We anticipate a great future for this project and for the 20/20 program to foster global solidarity among key organizations in efforts to explore approaches to workforce training, leadership and capacity development, and strengthening the human infrastructure."

"This effort is an important first step in creating a global partnership and strategy to achieve widespread adoption and deployment of eHealth and communications technologies to the wider global health community and create evidence-based solutions to health care challenges, especially the Global South," said Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Managing Director, the Rockefeller Foundation.

"I am delighted that this conference will optimize the opportunity for dialogue and collaboration among key entities and partners in the global community and will facilitate the accomplishment of establishing equitable access to quality care in the Global South and worldwide," said William Tierney, MD, Chair, AMIA International Affairs Committee.

For additional information on the Foundation's "Making the eHealth Connection" conference, please visit the eHealth Connection Web site at:

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