The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe) released the fourth volume of its eHealth series, “Safety and security on the Internet: Challenges and advances in Member States“. It was a true learning experience to serve as a lead author for this volume, which explored survey results from over 100 participating countries. Data in the publication were originally collected as part of the second global survey on eHealth by WHO. This fourth volume of the GOe eHealth series is focused on the public health implications of issues regarding:

*Online health information seeking and quality
*Digital literacy
*Internet pharmacies
*Internet safety and security

Among the findings of the report was that the most common approach by Member States to assure online health information quality remained “voluntary compliance”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also notable was that less than half (47%) of responding countries have government sponsored sites or initiatives to educate citizens about internet safety and literacy. Demonstrating that the process of legally purchasing medications online lacks a global consensus, most (66%) countries still do not have any legislation in place that specifies if Internet pharmacy operations are either allowed or prohibited.

The 86-page report fully characterizes the findings from these outlined domains. It also includes case studies that illustrate the advances and challenges in these arenas such as the Health On the Net Foundation (Switzerland) for online health information quality and the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (USA & Canada) for Internet pharmacies. A free, full-text PDF of the WHO report can be accessed here.