Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development

Infrastructure perspectives for the development of telehealth in Brazil and Latin America
Luiz Ary Messina, RNP/RUTE, Brazil

An ongoing project in Brazil, run by RNP - Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa ( National Education and Research Network ), is building MANs on the 27 state capitals where RNP has its PoPs (Redecomep - , Education and Research Community Network ). The purpose of this project is to connect all major public universities and research centers in the country with optical fibers owned and managed by regional consortia formed by these institutions and RNP. The initial capacity that will be available for the member institutions on each MAN is 1Gbps based on Gigabit Ethernet optical switching technology. Those MANs are being deployed at this time and they are expected to be operating along 2007 and 2008.

The health area is showing the most interest and feasibility. The project Rute[1] - Rede Universitária de Telemedicina ( ( Telemedicine University Network ), funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, is building and updating the application-level infrastructure of 19 university hospitals, in the major cities of the country. The project goal is to allow all the participating hospitals to use RNP network to run telemedicine and telehealth applications including video conferencing for information exchange, second opinion, continuous education and web conferencing. It builds the basis for the inter-hospital collaboration. An additional funding also by the Ministry of Science and Technology has been recently approved to expand[2] the Rute project to include 36 more university hospitals and therefore connect all the 45 public federal university hospitals in the country, yielding a telecommunication and Telehealth infrastructure project for 55 public hospitals.

One of the most well succeeded health programmes run by the Ministry of Health in Brazil is the Health Family Programme. In order to provide on-line support and a continuous education to the Health Family Teams, the Ministry of Health prepared during 2006 and is deploying in 2007 a new Programme called Telehealth National Programme, the Brazilian Primary Health Care PHC Programme[3]. It will be applied on the basis of the existing institutions communications infra-structure connected to the RNP backbone, around 9 university hospitals, in nine state reference centers, that will give PHC support to 100 public heathcare units, yielding 900 remote and rural health care (RHC) units, under selection criteria, and therefore improving the public health care access to advanced telecommunications and information services.

Understanding the need of the multi institutional participation to unite the academic expertise with the governmental needs of public health, to add resources through an interministerial participation together with state and municipalities managers, the Ministries of Health, Education and Science and Technology signed a Protocol of Intention to support these initiatives.

RNP is also part of the Latin American Cooperation for Advanced Networks (Clara): Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Clara connection to Europe is funded by the European Commission (program ).

New strategies and perspectives are being created to integrate the LA national programs and initiatives in Telehealth to the USA and Europe.

  • The Global Alliance for Enhancing Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries, of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, UN G@ID
  • U.S. National Committee for CODATA
  • Brazilian National Committee for CODATA.
  • CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries