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(ITU) ITU members agree to battle Ebola via ICT

2014/11/03 13:59

By Kang Yoon-seung

BUSAN, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- Members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on Monday agreed to actively use information, communication and technology (ICT) tools to fight the spread of Ebola and provide support to disease-stricken African countries, especially in rural areas.

At Monday's meeting, Sierra Leone urged member countries to support its resolution that calls for wider collaboration with all relevant parties, including all U.N. agencies, and particularly the World Health Organization, within the scope and mandates of the ITU.

The resolution aims to "develop guidelines, best practices as well as feasibility studies, project management tools and support to identify the communications infrastructure needed and supports the exchange of timely information on health-related emergencies."

A Sierra Leone delegate speaks at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) meeting on Nov. 3, 2014 on using ICT to tackle Ebola. (Yonhap) A Sierra Leone delegate speaks at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) meeting on Nov. 3, 2014 on using ICT to tackle Ebola. (Yonhap)

"The resolution is about leveraging ICT in Africa, where Ebola has greatly affected people," Salamatu Tutu Fonti-Kanu, a delegate from Sierra Leone. told Yonhap News Agency. "Some of these problems are caused by lack of ICT," she said. "We are seeking help from ICT to make sure that proper information is spread across."

   Other countries joined in on supporting the resolution.

"ICT is an important tool to resolve various global issues that each participating country is facing," the Japanese delegation said. "We hope that ITU will take actively significant measures to this issue and close cooperation with the World Health Organization and other organizations." Tokyo pledged about 180,000 Swiss francs (US$186,238) as its contribution to the cause, helping to develop related mobile application for smartphones.

"(It) can provide crucial information for the prevention of the spread of Ebola diseases as well as other effective measures," the Japanese delegation said.

Britain, who has donated some $399 million, called the fight against Ebola an "incredibly important issue."

   The U.S. delegation expressed its support, saying "ICTs and broadband connectivity are an integral and indispensable part of this effort, enabling us to address the complex coordination and communication challenges."

   "We believe ICTs will play an increasingly important role in coordinating an effective global response," it said.

The resolution is expected to be formally passed between Wednesday and Friday.

South Korea is currently hosting the 19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, referred to as the PP-14, in the port city of Busan until Friday. The ITU, a U.N. agency, deals with technological standards, radio frequency allocations and improvements in communications services.

colin@yna.co.kr

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