Addressing the EU Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee in Strasbourg this morning, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said that the current economic crisis is affecting our citizens’ income, employment, nutrition and quality of life and is having an overall negative impact on health and well-being, including mental health and we must explore options that will help rectify its impact.
Martina Anderson said:
“It is clear that new technologies can present opportunities to both individuals and health systems alike.
“Indeed in my own constituency I recently launched proposals for a Health Innovation Corridor in the North West of Ireland.
“We are currently exploring the benefits such technology can bring to patients and health professionals alike.
“But what needs to be underlined is that it is essential that the evolving e-Health technologies must bring tangible benefits to patients and not simply be a means to create a new market to generate profits for shareholders.
“Technological development in the health arena must be for the purpose of providing practical solutions to real problems that will impact positively and directly on the health and well-being of citizens and not just another commodity with no higher purpose.
“We must ensure that patients are empowered through understanding the benefits of any new technology and not excluded.
“Accessibility and understanding is key – especially for older people who may find the technologies more complicated than younger people who would be more accepting of change.
“One further point we need to consider and which was mentioned in the draft report – for which I was Shadow Rapporteur – is the crucial issue of data protection.
“Health data is of an extremely sensitive nature and all information related to a patient’s health must be treated with absolute diligence and care. We need to ensure that appropriate security and confidentiality measures are put in place across the entire chain of processing. Those patients who – after having given explicit and prior consent for their data to be used – should be regularly updated on exactly what purposes this data is being accessed for.
“Technology has a crucial role to play in achieving optimum delivery in health solutions but unless information gathered is treated with the utmost degree of security it can be abused, therefore diligence at all levels of data collection is crucial.”