Ministers of Health, Caribbean in Jamaica
Ministers of Health, Caribbean in Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica, 8 November 2016 (PAHO/WHO)–Health ministers from 16 Caribbean countries and territories reached agreement today on an action plan for collectively improving and innovating their national information systems for health.

Meeting in Kingston, Jamaica at the invitation of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the ministers agreed that improved information systems are vital for "future-proofing" national health care services and health coverage throughout the Caribbean.

"The Caribbean region is recognized for providing innovative health proposals to the rest of the world," said PAHO's Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne. "And we are making history again this week, as the first region to articulate a common vision for achieving secure, shared and scalable information systems for health."

The health ministers–joined by PAHO representatives, leading regional health experts and international government representatives–agreed to collaborate in areas of innovation, financing, capacity-building, legislation, and data management for enhancing these information systems.

Health ministers also noted that existing and future information tools and technologies must be harnessed and optimized for gathering and sharing digital data on the health needs and services of their most vulnerable and under-served populations, while bridging different levels of development and resources across their countries.

"Reliable information, communicated effectively, has the potential to transform the future delivery of our health care services, as we seek to achieve universal access to health services and health coverage," said the Hon. Nicholas Steele, Minister of Health and Social Security, Grenada.

"More health data is needed from different sectors, combined with regional information-sharing that enables better research and decision-making on our health services," said Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General for Health and Social Development at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

Health Ministers also agreed that information systems for health must safeguard patient privacy, confidentiality and security, by ensuring that all digital health data is secure and protected.