Letters

Global public health and the information superhighway Epidemiologists are using the internet

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6956.736 (Published 17 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:736
  1. M White,
  2. T Ostbye

    EDITOR, — Ronald LaPorte and colleagues presented an impressive, though not unrealistic vision of an electronic future for public health.1 Many of us in public health have used Internet in some of the ways suggested.

    In 1990 an electronic network for research and teaching in public health was established among epidemiologists in Hungary, Canada, Norway, Israel, and Australia.2 In 1991, to facilitate a European Community funded TEMPUS (Trans European Mobility Programme for University Studies) project aimed at developing education for a new public health in Hungary, we set up a listserver at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, linking 16 partners in six countries.3 This electronic mailing list has provided a mode of communication between partners, enabling rapid transfer of information and discussion of the project, as well as development of presentations and publications.

    More recently, in Newcastle, a listserver has been set up as a part of the Mailbase system open to academics in public health.4 This list facilitates the sharing of information (on workshops, seminars, conferences, research grants, new ideas, etc) and promotes links, collaborative working, joint problem solving, and mutual support. It was initially intended for those working in the United Kingdom, but the membership has grown rapidly over 18 months and has spread to the rest of Europe and North America. At the outset the list was easily accessible only to academics, but the opening up of the information superhighway1 heralds the possibility of a much wider membership for the list, including those working in health services (such as public health physicians in Britain) and others in public sector and non- governmental organisations.

    Electronic communication, especially computer conferencing, has also been used as a tool for distance education in epidemiology and biostatistics,5 breaking the isolation that is often felt by …

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