Global CTOs call for quick progress on e-health standards

CTOs from information and communication technology (ICT) industry have
urged ITU to accelerate technical standardization work in the field of

CTOs stressed that reliable, interoperable standards are key to
providing patients and health professionals with the means to utilize remote consultation
services, advanced ICT-based diagnostic procedures and electronic health
information services.

The meeting, which was held today in Geneva during ITU Telecom World
2011, agreed that international coordination on standards will be vital, and
that growth in telemedicine services will also demand aggressive roll-out of
broadband networks.

The CTOs encouraged ITU, as the world’s leading developer of global ICT
standards, to intensify its involvement by developing essential e-health
infrastructure standards, and by cooperating with other standards bodies to
create reliable, secure and interoperable e-health solutions.

“ITU greatly profits from and welcomes the advice of these technology
leaders. E-health will bring cutting-edge medical advice to people living in
remote, underserved areas, and will revolutionize access to health services in
the developing world. ITU is actively working with all parties to create the
frameworks for these technologies to be rolled-out on a solid bedrock of
broadband deployment,” said Hamadoun Touré, secretary general, ITU.

CTOs urged that any revisions to the International Telecommunication
Regulations (ITRs) maintain the necessary flexibility to enable continued
growth in services. To provide a strong basis for continued growth, the CTOs
believe the resulting ITRs should reflect technology-neutral, high-level
principles, and should be stable enough to reduce the need for future updates.

Participants also encouraged ITU to continue promoting the key role of
ICTs in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and urged ITU to push
this agenda at the upcoming United Nations climate change negotiations (COP17)
in Durban, South Africa. They praised ITU’s current work in the field,
referencing in particular the work of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization
Sector on methodologies to assess the environmental impact of ICT.

Regarding climate change adaption, and informed by recent events in
Japan, CTOs identified two crucial areas for further work: a disaster relief
system allowing individuals to notify a victim’s friends, family or employer;
and a disaster relief guidance mechanism to help victims reach safety. ITU is
already actively engaged in work in this field, including emergency
communication systems to provide early warning of impending disasters.

In the area of technical standards for fixed networks, the meeting
reached an important agreement on the need for a release-based approach. CTOs
recommended that ITU take a leading role in the release production, coordinating
the activities of the most important fora and standards-development
organizations (SDOs).

They also welcomed the increasing role of developing countries in global
standards development, and recognized the importance those countries attach to
issues such as broadband, electromagnetic compatibility, quality of service,
sustainable rural communications, and affordability. They pledged to develop
partnerships with developing countries to strengthen national standards

Regular CTO meetings cement ITU’s relationship with ICT industry
leaders, ensuring top-level needs are taken into account in ongoing work. The
strategic-level debate engendered by the meetings provides invaluable insights
into the future course of the ICT industry.

By Team
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