A Transform Health statement for the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting
As G20 Health Ministers prepare to meet in Rome on 5 and 6 September, Transform Health members are calling on Ministers to harness the potential of digital technologies and data to “build back better” following COVID-19 and increase resilience against future health-related crises.
COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in health systems across the world and further exacerbated the digital divide that prevents billions of people from accessing essential services, staying connected, and fully participating in the economy. Transform Health therefore welcomes the Italian G20 Presidency’s recognition of the opportunities presented by the digital revolution to respond to the pandemic and make health services more equitable and effective.
“Strong, resilient and digitally-enabled health systems that support better health for all are critical for accelerating progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) and preventing future global health crises,” says Transform Health’s Co-Chair Nanjira Sambuli.
“We call upon the G20 to commit to work with the WHO and other partners, including national and regional digital health networks and civil society, to develop a global governance framework for health data that aligns with the Italian Presidency’s focus on cooperation, solidarity and equity.” – Nanjira Sambuli, Co-Chair, Transform Health
Ahead of their meeting, G20 Health Ministers have indicated that they will outline steps to improve health systems in the wake of the pandemic. Among the deliverables of the meeting, Ministers are expected to make recommendations on the need to collect and share health data globally through digital technologies.
“Transform Health welcomes G20 discussions on the importance of sharing health data as a public good,” says Sambuli. “However, stronger governance of digital technologies and data is urgently needed to ensure that everyone can benefit from data and digital technologies whilst protecting individual human rights. We call upon the G20 to commit to work with the WHO and other partners, including national and regional digital health networks and civil society, to develop a global governance framework for health data that aligns with the Italian Presidency’s focus on cooperation, solidarity and equity.”
The availability and quality of health data depends on sufficient investment in the foundational building blocks for digital health such as ICT infrastructure and a health workforce equipped with adequate digital literacy and skills. Mechanisms for more coordinated and effective international funding for digital health are urgently needed to achieve health for all in the digital age.
“To truly ensure that no one is left behind”, says Sambuli, “G20 Ministers must invest in reducing the digital divide and supporting every country, health facility and household to take full advantage of digital health tools and data.”