HON and WSIS: We Serve the Information Society
What does the term 'information society' mean to you? It is difficult not to think of the Internet and other new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Health On the Net Foundation (HON) is a child of the information society, created in 1995 as the World Wide Web gained importance as a vehicle for health information.
To fulfil the promise of Internet for the delivery of vital health information, HON has developed a range of services to address the central issue of information quality.
The American humorist Mark Twain said, "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint". His remark, made at the turn of the 20th century, is all the more true today with the lack of control over online health information.
At WSIS, governments and other stakeholders will discuss the controversial subject of control over e-content. To address this critical issue, HON pioneered a voluntary approach: a code of ethical conduct, the HONcode, which information providers can adopt to distinguish their web sites as trustworthy sources.
Identifying information as credible is just the first step; quality
information needs to be made available to those who seek it. General-purpose
search engines can help, but they stop short of verifying the information
or the credentials of its authors, and their ranking criteria are kept
secret from the public for business reasons. Specialized expertise,
human intervention and neutrality remain essential. HON has developed
a range of tools to help Internet users find trustworthy information,
and to help information providers by setting minimum standards for health
and medical web sites.
MEDNET: Internet in Health for All
This year, Health On the Net Foundation has the honor and responsibility
of organizing the annual meeting of the Society for the Internet in
Medicine. MEDNET 2003 will bring together several hundred researchers,
developers and users of applications of the Internet in Medicine in
an official WSIS parallel event, to take place in the days leading up
to the summit (4-7 December).
HON selected by World Summit Award
HON has been selected as one of five finalists in the e-Health category of the World Summit Awards, a three year global project that aims to go beyond the general issues of infrastructure development or network access and to recognise, select and promote the worlds best e-content and innovative applications in the Information Society.
An event showcasing the Award will take place on day 2 of the WSIS, in the presence of representatives of member state governments, private sector companies, civil society entities and Heads of State present for the Summit.
Health On the Net is associated with the Geneva University Hospitals, which have set up projects to use their expertise in medical information to support tele-medicine applications in several developing countries.
These projects (listed below) will be exhibited during the summit,
from 9th to 13th December at Palexpo. HON has been involved in the content
aspect of these programmes, contributing its advanced search-engine
technologies and its experience with natural language processing and
distributed database access.