Transform Health reaction to the G20 Indonesia Summit

At the recently concluded G20 summit in Bali, leaders once again recognised the importance of digital transformation and data for improving health and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, opportunities were missed to outline a coordinated and inclusive global approach to health data governance so the benefits of health data can be maximised for all.

Whilst concrete, measurable commitments to strengthen health data governance were lacking in the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration, Transform Health welcomes the G20’s statements on closing gaps in digital connectivity and developing digital skills and digital literacy, especially for women, girls and vulnerable communities. Such steps are essential to reduce health inequities as health care and health services become increasingly digital and data-driven. Transform Health also welcomes G20 nations’ consensus that approaches to digital transformation must be “inclusive, human-centric, empowering and sustainable”, as well as commitments to strengthen national health systems and global health governance.

At the G20 Health Ministers meeting earlier this year, the need for greater global cooperation and harmonisation was recognised to increase people’s trust in digital health ecosystems and sharing of health data. In Bali this week, G20 Leaders said that they remain committed to “further enable data free flow with trust and promote cross-border data flows”. Agreement on how this will be achieved was not reached and will therefore be one of many issues that the Indian Presidency of the G20 will need to take forward in 2023.

To build trust and maximise the benefits of health data, Transform Health continues to call upon the G20 to support the development of a global health data governance framework, based on a set of equity and human rights-based Health Data Governance Principles. Such a framework, endorsed by governments through a World Health Assembly resolution, would establish a common pathway for G20 nations and beyond to share and use health data for the public good whilst protecting individual rights and would lay the foundation for improved public trust in health data systems.

With less than half-way to go until the 2030 SDG deadline, and with many countries facing multiple crises and challenges, Transform Health urges the G20 not to miss another opportunity to unlock the power of data for health, nor the opportunity to harness the digital transformation to help us deliver health for all.

We also call on the G20 to ensure that civil society has the opportunity to meaningfully engage in G20 processes. We are concerned by the lack of civil society engagement and visibility during this year’s G20 Summit, despite an active and engaged group of civil society actors within the C20. As we transition to India’s Presidency of the G20, we must ensure open and transparent processes for civil society (representing from a diverse range of civil society actors) to engage with G20 governments and to hold them accountable.

We call on the Indian Presidency of the G20 and all G20 nations to:

● Prioritise the development of a global health data governance framework, including supporting a resolution on this at the 76th World Health Assembly in May 2022;

● Ensure a global framework is developed through a transparent and inclusive, multistakeholder process, with the meaningful engagement of civil society and communities;

● Endorse the equity and rights-based Health Data Governance Principles and ensure they underpin a global framework;

● Prioritise investment and action to support the equitable, inclusive and sustainable digital transformation of health systems as a key opportunity to accelerate UHC progress.