Dear HIFA colleagues,
Q: Should access to reliable healthcare information be a human right?
Our inputs to date suggest that current legal provisions already obligate governments to ensure their citizens have access to reliable healthcare information, the main challenge being to get governments to recognise and act on their responsibility. We have not yet heard from those who want to see access to reliable healthcare information advocated as a human right in itself. I would like to invite further comment, especially from those who believe access should be a human right, and not just a determinant of the right to health.
Q: Improving the availability and use of reliable healthcare information would lead to substantial improvements in quality of care and health outcomes: do you agree or disagree?
Several people have made the point that reliable healthcare information is necessary for quality of care and health outcomes, but that many other factors are also necessary. As noted in previous HIFA definitions of 'reliable' healthcare information, all information needs to be in the right language, format, technical level, available as and when needed, and appropriate to the level of resources. The key is to be empowered to deliver evidence-informed care; we therefore include past exposure to reliable healthcare information (for example through training or past use of information resources) and do not limit our perspective to the immediate action of seeking/finding information.
A few have said the statement (Improving the availability and use of reliable healthcare information would lead to substantial improvements) is self-evident. The availability and use of reliable healthcare information is a prerequisite for quality of care. This is true whatever the context, whatever the level of available resources.
HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: email@example.com