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WHO launches new global Initiative on digital health supported by G20 Presidency

Picture by © WHO / Danielle Alakija

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the G20 India presidency announced a new Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) Saturday at the Health Minister’s Meeting of the G20 Summit hosted by the Government of India.

The new GIDH initiative (pronounced “guide” for short) will operate as a WHO-managed network and platform to support the implementation of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025.

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WHO serves as the Secretariat for the strategy implementation to converge and convene global standards, best practices and resources to fast track digital health system transformation.“We thank the G20 countries and the India G20 Presidency for recognizing WHO’s unique role and strengths in this area and supporting the establishment of the new GIDH network,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Continued support and collaboration of the G20, development partners and international organizations will be necessary to accomplish together what none of us can do alone. WHO is committed to working with countries to strengthen their capacities and to improve access to quality-assured digital solutions for a healthier, safer, fairer future.”

Speaking at the launch, India’s Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said, “Today was a momentous day in the history of the G20 Health Working Group, wherein G20 countries not only identified a priority for its relevance but collectively worked towards its launch.” The new Global Initiative on Digital Health is one of the key deliverables of India’s G20 Presidency.

Since the first WHO resolution on ehealth in 2005 that led the pathway for development and adoption of the WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health, over 120 WHO Member States have developed a national digital health policy or strategy.

While recent experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a boost in digital health use, many countries express the need for support to move from product-focused and pilot digital health initiatives to establishing national digital health infrastructure with appropriate governance, policy and a competent health workforce needed to select, maintain and adapt digital health interventions.

The GIDH initiative aims to bring countries and partners together to achieve measurable outcomes by developing clear priority-driven investment plans for digital health transformation.

Similarly, by improving reporting and transparency of digital health resources and facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration across regions and countries to accelerate progress.

Also supporting whole-of-government approaches for digital health governance in countries; and increasing technical and financial support to the implementation of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025 and its next phase.

WHO and partners announced substantial commitments in cash and kind from multiple stakeholders to support the launch of this new Initiative.

Digital health is a proven accelerator to advance health outcomes towards achieving Universal Health Coverage and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Digital health interventions improve health care in many ways, from supporting individuals in managing their health and wellness journeys, to enabling care providers to adhere to guidelines and provide high quality care, to strengthening health systems by improving supply chains and workforce management.

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