In pursuit of the digital transformation of health systems to advance universal health coverage (UHC) goals, the role of parliamentarians and parliamentary bodies is essential.  National parliaments and parliamentarians play a crucial function in: establishing and enforcing the legislative frameworks to guide the digital transformation; raising awareness about health issues among their peers and with the broader public; ensuring key issues are prioritised by the government, responding to and serving the needs of the population; and holding the government accountable for implementing health policies and commitments, ensuring that promises made translate into action. Transform Health recognises the importance of working with parliamentarians to foster an enabling environment to achieve health for all in the digital age. 


Transform Health’s partnership with the UNITE Parliamentarians Network for Global Health

Transform Health has been collaborating with the UNITE Parliamentarians Network for Global Health since 2021, with a joint ambition to leverage the pivotal role of parliamentarians to advance Universal Health Coverage in the digital age. Bringing together UNITE’s work with parliamentarians worldwide to enhance political commitment for improved global health systems, and Transform Health as a global coalition of more than 200 partners advocating for the equitable and sustainable digital transformation of health systems to achieve UHC by 2030, this collaboration exemplifies the power of partnership to deliver greater impact. 

In late 2023, Transform Health and UNITE published a joint policy brief highlighting the role of parliamentarians in supporting the digital health transformation and outlining key recommendations of how they can take this forward through tangible actions. We will soon launch a joint parliamentary toolkit that includes a range of resources (policy brief, factsheets, parliamentary questions, advocacy letter) to support parliamentarians with these efforts. Through the toolkit, we aim to help equip parliamentarians with tools and resources to drive forward the digital health agenda in support of UHC. 


Working with regional partners to engage Regional Legislative Bodies in East and West Africa

Our parliamentary engagement work extends to regional legislative bodies. In collaboration with (and led by) the Pan African Health Informatics Association (HELINA), we have engaged the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), together with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, to organise a Consultative Forum on Health Data Governance, which aimed to sensitise regional stakeholders on the importance of developing an East African Community (EAC) Health Data Governance Framework and similar initiatives, to build a unified regional stance on health data governance in line with Africa CDC’s digital transformation strategy and its flagship Initiative on Health Data Governance. The meeting saw strategic dialogues on integrating the Health Data Governance principles into national regulations and a commitment to develop an EAC Regional Data Governance Framework in 2024.

In collaboration with (and led by) ENDA Santé, we have also engaged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliamentarians, including through a Regional Consultation with parliamentarians and other stakeholders, which culminated in the signing of a Declaration of Commitment on the digitization of health systems and the governance of health data. This represents an important commitment from ECOWAS parliamentarians to take advocacy to the highest level, as well as expressing their leadership on healthcare issues in the region.

These strategic collaborations  are pivotal in building a cohesive regional response to health challenges and show the critical role of regional legislative bodies in advancing digital health and health data governance across Africa.


Engaging parliamentarians through the My Data Our Health Campaign 

The #MyDataOurHealth campaign – a grassroots movement for better health data governance – was launched by Transform Health in 2023 with the aim of building public and political understanding of the issue and pressing for the development of a global health data governance framework. We are engaging community-based organisations (CBOs) and parliamentarians in this campaign. Hon. Neema Lugangira, Member of Parliament of Tanzania, has been a strong champion of health data governance and a strategic partner of the campaign. 


Parliamentary engagement – a continued priority for Transform Health

The engagement of parliamentarians in Transform Health’s work is not just strategic; it is essential. By fostering collaborative relationships with these key stakeholders, we are better positioned to advocate for and support the enabling environment to achieve health for all in the digital age. Our work with partners such as UNITE, HELINA and ENDA Santé, and through campaigns like #MyDataOurHealth, exemplifies the power of collective action in driving change. We remain committed to collaborating with parliamentarians, legislative bodies, and our partners to support the equitable, inclusive and sustainable digital health transformation towards a healthier, more equitable future for all.