Regardless of the remarkable achievements in science and technology, the social gradient and concentration of power are at highest levels. Thousands of children will die today from preventable diseases. The alarming levels of child labor, homeless people, human trafficking and sex slavery, family violence, child abuse or addiction to -licit and illicit- drugs are social diseases from sick societies in the global North and South. We need an immediate, radical change of paradigm if we want to avoid the grim future ahead of us.

Our planet is hurting and humanity is heading towards extiction. Humans keep destroying the Amazon an African rainforests. Oceans are full of plastic and fishing nets. An appalling ecocide in front of our very own eyes. Billions of sentient animals are separated from their mothers, enslaved, jailed in overcrowded in filthy and undignifying conditions. They will spend the rest of their lives in these deplorable conditions, until the day someone will slit their throat.

This cruelty and lack of empathy comes with a price: antibiotic resistance, global warming, pollution of our seas and rivers, epidemics and chronic diseases. The COVID pandemic has been a humbling reminder from Mother Nature to the arrogant, selfish and cruel human being.

The incidence of non-communicable diseases is rising at an alarming rate: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune disorders and mental illness represent both a disruption of our physiological balance and, many times, they represent end result of a dysfunctional political and economic model. Chronic stress, sleep deprivation, sedentarism, ultra-processed food polluted with pesticides are, without a doubt, behind of these multi-factorial and devastating illnesses.

There is hope. We must abolish this reactive and reductionist System of Disease, and embrace a sustainable System of Health, the model that GNU Solidario [2] proposes, and that is present in the GNU Health ecosystem.

Health is a non-negotiable human right. The System of Health means moving away from the current anthropocentric, oppressive, capitalist system. Proper education, nutrition, housing and sanitary conditions are indispensable for a healthy individual, family and society. The dismantling of the public health care system in favor of private corporations and financial institutions must stop, so health does not become a privilege of a few.

GNU Health [1] is, first and foremost, a social project. GNUHealth is disruptive. It’s about changing the status-quo and placing people before patients. It’s about integrating health professionals back into the community. GNUHealth is about listening to the person we have in front of us. About empathy and compassion in the art and science of Medicine, that can never be replaced by technology.

I started the GNU Health project in 2008 to improve Primary Health Care (PHC) in rural communities. Today, GNUHealth has grown to a full digital health ecosystem, keeping the spirit of Social Medicine. GNU Health is putting state of the art technology and open science to the betterment of our society. From primary care to medical genetics and precision medicine. From exposomics and the socioeconomic determinants of health, to the molecular basis of disease.

The GNUHealth Libre Digital Health ecosystem provides a Hospital Management Information System (HIS), a Lab Information System (LIMS), a reporting and analytics engine, a Personal Health Record (MyGNUHealth) and a distributed / federated health network, among others.

The GNUHealth Book of Life introduces a revolutionary approach to healthcare. Most of the time, our health is the result of many events related to the environment, decisions we make, and interactions with many actors, that shape our life as individuals. The Book of Life takes all these factors into account. Thanks to MyGNUHealth, the GNUHealth Personal Health record, the individual can now keep track of their health, and interact with their health professionals from their mobile phone or desktop.

GNUHealth enables interdisciplinary work and collaboration among health professionals. The GNU Health Federation creates nation-wide networks of people, hospitals, clinicians and research institutions. The information is gathered in massive health databases, providing the health authorities a timely and accurate observatory. This results in better health promotion and disease prevention campaigns, and in early detection of infectious diseases outbreaks.

GNUHealth is a mature project with a large and friendly international community. Throughout these years, GNU Health implementations in clinics, hospitals and research institutions around the globe have provided help to millions of individuals and their families.

This book will focus on the Hospital and Laboratory Management components. The other components of the GNUHealth ecosystem (MyGNUHealth, Thalamus, the GNU Health Federation) will have their own guides.

A call for Open Science Science can not evolve if the information is kept in private hands. If we, as a society and as a scientific community, want to find solutions for neuro-degenerative diseases, cancer, autoimmune conditions, metabolic and genetic disorders, we need open science.

The GNU Health ecosystem and its international community provide the key to foster the research in bioinformatics, social medicine and public health. We need our governments to use Free/Libre software in the public administration, particularly in the education and healthcare systems.

The need for a Kinder Science Last but not least, we need to work on human-relevant, animal free research. Science can not be complicit in the enslaving, torture and killing of millions of innocent beings in laboratories around the world. Speciesism and any other type of discrimination (racism, sexism,..) are appalling and must be abolished. In 2020 I signed with other scientists an open letter lead by Animal Free Research UK, a call to accelerate human-focussed medical research [3]. Today there are safer, effective and cruelty-free alternatives. Let’s embrace them.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this book. Most importantly, I hope you find it inspirational and join us in the fight for the betterment of our society.

Luis Falcon, MD
Founder, GNU Solidario