Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989
PELLEGRINI FILHO, Alberto. Inequities in access to information and inequities in health. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2002, vol.11, n.5-6, pp.409-412. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892002000500015.
This piece presents evidence that inequities in information are an important determinant of health inequities and that eliminating these inequities in access to information, especially by using new information and communication technologies (ICTs), could represent a significant advance in terms of guaranteeing the right to health for all. The piece reviews the most important international scientific research findings on the determinants of the health of populations, emphasizing the role of socioeconomic inequities and of deteriorating social capital as factors that worsen health conditions. It is noteworthy that Latin America has both socioeconomic inequities and major sectors of the population living in poverty. Among the fundamental strategies for overcoming the inequalities and the poverty are greater participation by the poor in civic life and the strengthening of social capital. The contribution that the new ICTs could make to these strategies is analyzed, and the Virtual Health Library (VHL) is discussed. Coordinated by the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME), the VHL is a contribution by the Pan American Health Organization that takes advantage of the potential of ICTs to democratize information and knowledge and consequently promote equity in health. The "digital gap" is discussed as something that can produce inequity itself and also increase other inequities, including ones in health. Prospects are discussed for overcoming this gap, emphasizing the role that governments and international organizations should play in order to expand access to the global public good that information for social development is.
Keywords : acceso a la información; Biblioteca Virtual de Salud; inequidad; nuevas tecnologías de información y comunicación; salud.