Ahead of the 2nd meeting of the G20 Health Working Group, Transform Health was invited to organise a multi-stakeholder consultation on a new global initiative to accelerate the digital transformation of health systems, proposed by India’s G20 Presidency. The consultation brought together more than 80 participants to provide inputs on various aspects of the initiative.
Stakeholders welcomed the initiative and its potential to help close existing funding gaps and accelerate the equitable digital transformation of health systems, particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), while also sharing recommendations to guide its development and implementation.
Digital health prioritised by Indian G20 Presidency
‘Digital health innovations and solutions to aid universal health coverage and improve healthcare service delivery’ has been identified as a priority for India’s Presidency of the G20 this year. Under this priority area, the Indian government is championing the establishment of a Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH). The proposed initiative seeks to harmonise the current fragmented global digital health landscape and address barriers to scaling and sustaining the digital transformation of health in all parts of the world.
Transform Health coalition partners and other stakeholders were invited to share their feedback on the GIDH during a virtual consultation on 24th March and through an online survey. Stakeholders were asked to share their feedback on six aspects of the GIDH: its scope; how it should align with other initiatives and principles; how it should be governed; the role of different stakeholders; how funding should be mobilised and distributed; and how the success of the initiative should be measured.
At the opening of the virtual consultation, Transform Health’s Executive Director Mathilde Forslund welcomed the G20’s prioritisation of digital health and the huge opportunity for this to help take forward recommendations in the coalition’s digital health investment report that was launched last year. The report looks at the challenges within the current funding landscape for digital health and lays out six key recommendations for national governments, international donors, and the private sector to increase and improve investments towards building digitally-enabled health systems that improve health outcomes for all.
Key stakeholder recommendations from the consultation
More than 80 individuals from over 50 organisations provided feedback on the GIDH. Contributions came from across the globe and represented a diverse range of sectors, including civil society, bilateral donors, multilateral agencies, health implementing organisations, regional digital health networks, youth networks, academic institutions and technical agencies.
Stakeholders recommended that the initiative should:
- Set a bold, global vision for the digital transformation of health, and also deliver tangible outcomes for LMICs in areas such as:
- Increasing the capacity of governments and their partners to build stronger and more equitable digitally-enabled health systems;
- Strengthening global governance and regulatory frameworks for digital technologies and data; and
- Establishing sustainable investment models to support the development and implementation of digital health strategies.
- Align with existing initiatives – notably the WHO’s digital health strategy – and help improve coordination and alignment between different initiatives and networks.
- Be grounded in existing principles for digital development, data governance and donor alignment, as well as human rights.
- Leverage existing organisational structures and funding instruments to reduce costs and further fragmentation of the global health architecture. An independent and inclusive governance and oversight mechanism should however be created.
- Reflect the diverse ecosystem of global, regional and national stakeholders involved in digital health, including end users, in the initiative and its governance.
- Prioritise funding to support the development and implementation of national digital health strategies. Funding streams could also be made available for other organisations to deliver activities that support national digital health strategies and/or cross-border goals.
- Focus on LMICs who are most off-track to achieve UHC and with lowest levels of digital health maturity.