Much of public health consists of information transfer to support the mission of disease prevention and health promotion. A focused needs-specific application of telecommunication and information technologies to this discipline would enhance the ability to transmit information and improve global health. Although tele-health processes and communications systems have been evolving in effectiveness, accessibility and simplicity, and applied to a variety of medical specialities, the application to public health has been slow. Past public health activities and problems suggest certain core concerns in areas related to the accessibility, content, accuracy, reliability and timeliness of health information. These concerns should drive the selection of technology solutions. Given the known array of current and near-future technological capabilities and public health needs, a forecast of how future telecommunications and information technology capabilities can meet these needs can be generated. The authors discuss new developments in communication/information pathways; information technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet and World Wide Web; and some projected applications in the public health area.