WHO Launches Global Initiative on Digital Health for Equitable Access
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) during the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting. The GIDH, a WHO Managed Network (‘Network of Networks’), aims to promote equitable access to digital health by addressing challenges such as duplication of efforts and a products-focused approach to digital health transformation.
The initiative was inaugurated by Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare of India, in the presence of WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The GIDH seeks to consolidate evidence and amplify recent and past achievements in global digital health, while strengthening mutual accountability to enhance the impact of future investments.
Currently, fragmented digital solutions in healthcare result in a significant workload on health workers, inefficiencies due to duplication, and a lack of interoperability. In order to address these issues, India’s G20 presidency has leveraged its experience in developing a national digital health architecture. This approach involves the convergence of digital health interventions aimed at strengthening health systems through interoperability.
Mandaviya expressed his gratitude to the G20 and invited countries, international organizations, and other stakeholders to collectively recognize the need for a common framework. He highlighted India’s leadership in promoting digital health by spearheading the Digital Health resolution at the 71st World Health Assembly in 2018, which led to global action on this critical agenda.
Dr. Tedros emphasized that the GIDH is a crucial step towards achieving equity in healthcare by harmonizing efforts and best practices. He emphasized the importance of incorporating tools like artificial intelligence (AI) while maintaining a focus on ethics, policy, and governance. The GIDH aims to ensure that nobody is left behind in the digital health revolution.
The WHO Director-General reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to utilizing the latest technologies for health and cited examples of successful implementation during times of healthcare disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine and AI have played a significant role in mitigating the impact of the crisis.
The GIDH will act as a platform to promote equitable access to digital health by tackling challenges such as duplication of efforts and maintaining a products-focused approach. Its ultimate goal is to align efforts in support of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 and facilitate the use of digital transformation tools.
Endorsed by member states in 2020, the Global Strategy on Digital Health aims to guide actions and goals while defining a roadmap for digital health transformation. The GIDH will significantly contribute to achieving more than 70% of the proposed actions outlined in the Global Strategy.
During the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting, Mansukh Mandaviya also launched the World Bank’s flagship report on ‘Digital in Health – Unlocking Value for Everyone’. This report provides countries with practical guidance on where to start implementing digital health, regardless of their stage of digital maturity or financial challenges.
The launch of the Global Initiative on Digital Health by the WHO marks an important milestone in promoting equitable access to healthcare through digital innovation. By addressing challenges and fostering collaboration, the initiative aims to create a comprehensive digital health ecosystem that benefits all. With a focus on evidence, accountability, and mutual cooperation, the GIDH will play a crucial role in shaping the future of healthcare delivery.