The Use of Open Source Software to Enhance Public Health Initiatives


OSS is rapidly becoming part of more public health applications. Mobile health (mHealth) initiatives and the need for electronic processes to support healthcare (eHealth) provide particularly good examples of government use of open source software. The growth of global and national mHealth and eHealth needs has spurred innovation in software development. In resource limited areas that do not have the infrastructure for sophisticated computing tools but where cellular technology is prevalent, mHealth solutions are able to move such communities into the digital age. Monetary costs of licensing and maintaining proprietary software systems have been common challenges to these end users, but OSS helps solve these problems. OSS has already been used to further certain global public health initiatives, but more needs to be done. For instance, the passage of the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHR) in 2005 required member countries to implement certain core public health capacities by June 2012. The adoption more broadly of OSS has the potential to improve the efficiency of IHR implementation, and therefore global public health initiatives in general, because it provides a free, modifiable software option which can be altered to meet specific requirements.


Provide an overview of common open source software (OSS) licenses used in public health applications, and discuss how OSS can help improve global public health security.

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Event/Publication Date: 
September, 2013

May 02, 2019

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