Developing an enabling environment for the digital transformation of health requires sustained collaboration between technical experts, governments, research institutions, civil society organisations and patients groups and communities in order to build systems that respond to everyone’s needs.
This year’s Digital Health Week, held between 10 and 16 October, focused on the theme of ‘bridging the technical-political divide’. The aim of Digital Health Week 2022 was to encourage organisations to move out of technical and corporate silos and to work together to ensure an effective enabling environment for the digital transformation of health, to deliver on the promise of health for all by 2030.
Transform Health and partners focussed on the issue of health data governance and the need for a set of common global standards that all countries could adopt. We launched the ‘Take Action for HDG’ advocacy toolkit for individuals and organisations to take action – for example, by writing to their health ministries and amplifying the messages on social media.
Digital Health Week 2022: A Look Back
This year over 90 organisations actively engaged in Digital Health Week – with over 70 organisations hosting more than 90 events and 20 organisations making/reaffirming commitments to drive forward the digital transformation of health systems in their various regions and contexts.
Fostering consensus: Digital Health Week events
Multistakeholder conversations were a key part of the 90+ Digital Health Week events, with many events featuring speakers from varied stakeholder groups, such as national governments and institutions, regional bodies, medical professionals, private sector representatives, research institutions, and community voices.
Representatives from the various government Ministries of Health – including Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Indonesia, Tanzania and Kenya – took part and organised events. The Ministry of Health in Ethiopia took the lead in organising a week-long series of activities including four virtual events that culminated in a grand in-person conclave on digital health transformation in Ethiopia.
Organisations also used the moment to announce campaigns and engage with their communities. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Indonesia hosted an in-person event that engaged youth on their nutrition choices and received over a hundred signatures from young people for their campaign. PMNCH similarly launched the #1point8 global campaign for young people during Digital Health Week. In Latin America, RECAINSA hosted the Digital Health Forum 2022 during Digital Health Week, with a series of lightning talks, panel discussions and workshops that engaged digital health professionals in Latin America on key actions needed for greater collaboration and learning in the sector. STOPAIDS and Restless Development held a consultation for young people on human rights norms and standards that apply to health in the digital age.
New digital health initiatives and services shared their success stories and learnings. In Senegal, IT4LIFE presented WeerWi: the first mobile app to track menstrual cycles in francophone Africa. In South Africa, the Taboobreaker Association presented the LoveLand app that offers a gamified approach to teaching sexual and reproductive health information. Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital shared roadmap to implementing a replicable e-Health Architecture for health facilities to boost interoperability between national health systems in Ethiopia.
Pledging progress: Digital Health Week commitments
Organisations used the global moment as an opportunity to make commitments towards digital transformation of health in their regions – whether through programs, services, thought leadership, capacity building, mobilisation of communities or financial resources.
20 organisations made new commitments, or reaffirmed commitments made in 2021 by updating on the progress made since then. Here are a few notable new commitments:
- By 2025, Cofpak will collaborate with healthcare stakeholders in Kenya to accelerate integrated electronic medical record (EMR) uptake to over 50% of healthcare facilities in Kenya to enhance the quality of care.
- By 2024, Humanity & Inclusion will be deploying OpenTeleRehab, an open source, multidisciplinary, telerehabilitation software in 3 additional countries to improve access to rehabilitation services and facilitate discharge, transition of care and follow-up.
- By 2025, doctHERs will integrate primary/secondary/tertiary healthcare data into an open-source database with trends obtained primarily through our existing tele-health/smart clinics and secondly through collaborative measures with JCI accredited hospitals to improve the population-level awareness and quality of healthcare services delivered by 5000 female frontline/community healthcare workers across Pakistan.
- By December 2022, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Prevention will publish a guiding framework for creating a comprehensive strategy for mHealth data sharing, privacy, and governance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) underpinned by the Health Data Governance Principles.
Sharing stories: Digital Health Week community
Digital Health Week was a moment for individuals and organisations to share their thoughts, learnings and concerns about digital health transformation in their respective contexts. Nearly 11,000 people interacted with #DigitalHealthWeek related content on social media, and the hashtag was viewed 7.5 million times.
We saw a plethora of articles being published during Digital Health Week, from making digital tools like pulse oximeters more inclusive so as to read all skin tones, published by Every Breath Counts, to a comprehensive overview of digital health in West Africa by the newly launched Transform Health West Africa coalition. Interesting perspectives where shared, such as this DevEx op-ed on how mobile money can help get to Universal Health Coverage and Aapti Institute’s fresh perspective on health data governance using data stewardship approaches. Transform Health Kenya created a series of videos on digital health transformation in Kenya. All these resources can be found on the Community page of the Digital Health Week website.
Reproductive Health Network Kenya hosted a Twitter Spaces on digital health as self-care in promoting access to sexual and reproductive health, that was attended heavily by young people across Kenya. Other organisations joined the global conversation by sharing their key messages and priorities within digital health transformation, reaching a global audience with the hashtag.
Driving transformation through consensus-building
In its second year, Digital Health Week continued to see active engagement from various stakeholders, demonstrating the great appetite for collaboration and shared learning. It drives home the need for more such multistakeholder discussions to bridge the gap between technical experts and political decisionmaking.
Transform Health is committed to furthering the impact of Digital Health Week as a global moment to foster important conversations on digital health and its role in achieving Universal Health Coverage. We look forward to your feedback on Digital Health Week, so shoot us an email with your thoughts!
About Digital Health Week
Digital Health Week is a global week of action that aims to put digital health on the public and political agenda. It is a moment for us all to come together to build partnerships, share our digital health successes and challenges, and chart a roadmap towards achieving health for all.
It has now been hosted for two years in a row, to great success and engagement by a global community of organisations, institutions, governments and individuals interested in the role of digital health in achieving Universal Health Coverage. Organisations engage in the week of action by telling their stories of digital health – hosting events, making public commitments and amplifying digital health news and content in the media. Digital Health Week is a moment open to all, and is not a Transform Health branded event.