Can Informatics Transform Public Health Practice, Research and Learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)?
Improvement in public health was the main reason behind the major achievements in health and wellbeing of people in the past 20th century. Challenges facing public health in the 21st century can be tackled cost-effectively by improving further public health practice, research and learning. For such improvement to take place in this information age, information and communication technologies have to be an integral part of public health practice and education. In developed countries, public health informatics has become a recognized discipline that enhanced and even transformed public health functions. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), with the largest economy in the Middle East has witnessed unprecedented development and growth in healthcare, higher education, and information technology over the last few years. However, the current multiple providers and sectors of public health services and education need to be connected to enhance their outcomes. This paper describes briefly current status of public health services and education and proposes a public health informatics as a national-wide integrated and systematic information technology approach to optimize and transform public health practice, research and learning in KSA. The aim is to draw attention to this important subject so leaders, decision makers and academic organizations participate scientifically in setting the stage for this promising project.