Health information systems and democracy: contributions from the Brazilian sanitary movement
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Within the context of studies on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), earlier research has sought to understand how Health Information Systems (HIS) can achieve success in developing countries. In Brazil, in addition to these studies, research under the guise of Information and Information Technology in Health (IITH), developed within the context of the Brazilian Sanitary Movement, has also investigated how HIS can contribute to the development of health practices. IITH research seeks to understand how Health Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can enable the development of a democratic arena to improve health practices management in Brazil. This paper reviews the IITH literature in order to link its proposals with studies of HIS developed within the ICT4D realm. Thus, it was perceived that both theoretical approaches can be compared under six dimensions of analysis, namely: a) the need for a political approach to HIS analysis; b) the importance of integration standards for health information; c) the quest for research methods based on practical research; d) the need for a holistic approach to understand HIS implementation and use; e) the importance of local context settings; and f) the influence of technical artifacts on HIS. For each dimension, IITH and ICT4D contributions are compared and it is noted how similar they are in reality, as well as how they can learn and benefit from each other.