Transform Health statement ahead of the G20 Health Ministers meeting on 20-21 June
Ahead of the 1st meeting of G20 Health Ministers, taking place on 20-21 June 2022, Transform Health is calling on G20 Member States to endorse a new set of Health Data Governance Principles and to call for the development of a global framework to maximise the public value of health data whilst protecting individual rights.
Under its priority pillars of global health architecture and digital transformation, Indonesia’s G20 Presidency has identified the need for closer collaboration and equality of standards among nations to build resilience and secure common prosperity in the digital age.
The increased availability and opportunities for sharing health data offers huge benefits for G20 nations to improve public health, respond to health emergencies, accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and advance other Sustainable Development Goals. The importance of sharing timely and accurate health data, including genomic data, was highlighted during the meeting of the G20 Health Working Group on 5-7 June. Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, G20 health experts discussed the need for overarching standards for open, transparent and equitable data collection, sharing and use in order to build public trust.
Why we need a global health data governance framework now
As health systems and other parts of our lives have become increasingly digital, volumes of health data and health-related data continue to expand. However, national, regional and global rules to govern the collection and use of data have not kept pace with the growing potential for data to support better health and wellbeing, or the potential harms arising from data misuse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of sharing health data within and across borders. At the same time, misinformation and cases of health data being used for political and commercial gains have highlighted the need to build public trust in data systems and safeguard personal data.
A comprehensive global framework on health data governance—framed around objectives of protecting people; promoting health value; and prioritising equity—would guide countries within and outside of the G20 towards a common vision of health data collection and use that maximises public benefit within and across borders, whilst safeguarding individual rights. A new set of equity and human rights-based Health Data Governance Principles was launched in April 2022 and has already been endorsed by over 90 organisations. These principles provide a starting point for the development of a global governance framework.
Action from the G20 to strengthen health data governance
By championing a global approach to health data governance based on common values, the G20 can ensure that the benefits of digitally-transformed health systems and healthcare are enjoyed by all. Transform Health calls on G20 members to take the following actions and to include these commitments in the Health Ministers meeting outcome statement:
- Endorse the equity and human rights-based Health Data Governance Principles, which should form the basis of a new governance framework.
- Support the development of a global health data governance framework, including sponsoring a World Health Assembly resolution calling on the World Health Organization to lead an inclusive process to develop it.
- Invest in people-centred, digitally-enabled health and health information systems to accelerate UHC progress, build resilience against pandemics and support low and middle-income countries to address bottlenecks in their production, management and use of health data.
By taking action on this agenda, members of the G20 have an opportunity to advance both domestic and international health targets and increase public confidence in data sharing. Strengthening the equitable governance of health data, and a global framework to guide this, will be vital to achieving UHC and also essential for detecting and responding to future pandemics.