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mHealth meeting with WHO and ITU

By State Secretary Cecilie Brein-Karlsen

I am pleased to welcome you all to this mHealth meeting. An especially warm welcome to our guests from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). I appreciate that you have had the opportunity to meet us here in Oslo today. We are eager to learn more about your mHealth initiative and to share ideas, experiences and possibilities within the mHealth framework.

Non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory diseases have become a global challenge that all countries face. This is recognized by the World Health Organization, which has adopted a global goal of 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025. This challenge also applies to Norway!

New laws and regulations and increased taxation have been the traditional tools used by authorities when attempting to reduce the most common risk factors associated with NCDs. This has helped us to achieve important results in keeping tobacco and alcohol consumption down. But these tools are less effective when it comes to improve diet and promote more physical activity. We now need to look for alternative ways to take the NCD-agenda forward. One important issue is how new technological platforms can be used to combat non-communicable disease and for the purpose of managing NCDs from a personal point of view.

Norway has a new Government with modernization and innovation high on the agenda. . Smart, efficient and comprehensive use of modern technology is perhaps the most important measure to achieve better health with a higher efficiency and more patient empowerment. Together with new and improved work practices, new ways of delivering service and innovation, we want to improve the quality and patient safety.

Norway was one of the first countries to make use of IT in many areas in healthcare. However, being an early adaptor is not always an advantage. Today we experience a diverse system landscape consisting of a disperse portfolio of solutions, which doesn't support the continuity of care good enough.

Health professionals need to have secure access to necessary patient information like referrals, discharge notes, medication, test results and X-rays.

Patients want to have electronic access to their own health information.

Therefore, the Norwegian Government wants a move towards a common IT-platform for the whole health and care sector. The vision is "one patient – one record".

We are currently investigating how this vision can be reached.

eHealth, mHealth, telemedicine, welfare technology, etc. are terms that give us new possibilities. New possibilities to improve our way of delivering health services, and new ways to empower patients and citizens to intervene in their own health care. It is important that these are used well.

At the same time, I will stress that technology is a supplement and not a replacement to clinical care. Technology will never substitute the importance of the healthcare personnel.

Today our focus is on the use of mobile technology to improve prevention, treatment and enforcement to control non-communicable diseases (NCD). At this conference, we have the opportunity to learn more about the WHO and ITU initiative and we will try to give you an insight in ongoing work in Norway.

We will also, today and later on, explore the possibilities for Norway to join forces with WHO and ITU in participation in the project.

To contribute to innovative use of technology, we need to work together. Different stakeholders should all benefit from a partnership with both government, public and private suppliers, vendors and the research community . I am therefore happy to see so many of you here today.

I wish you good luck with this conference.

Thank you.