The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the G20 India presidency have launched a new Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) to converge and convene global standards, best practices, and resources to fast track digital health system transformation across the world.

The new GIDH initiative will operate as a WHO-managed network and platform to support the implementation of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025 and the WHO will serve as the Secretariat for the strategy implementation, decided a meeting of health ministers held as part of a G20 Summit hosted by India at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, last week.

“Continued support and collaboration of the G20, development partners, and international organisations will be necessary to accomplish together what none of us can do alone," says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The WHO is committed to working with countries to strengthen their capacities and to improve access to quality-assured digital solutions for a healthier, safer, fairer future, he added. "The new global initiative on digital health is one of the key deliverables of India’s G20 Presidency," says India’s Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya.

Since the first WHO resolution on e-health in 2005 that led the pathway for development and adoption of the WHO Global Strategy on digital health, over 120 WHO member states have developed a national digital health policy or strategy.

While recent experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a boost in digital health use, many countries expressed the need for support to move from product-focused and pilot digital health initiatives to establishing national digital health infrastructure with appropriate governance, policy and a competent health workforce needed to select, maintain and adapt digital health interventions, says the WHO.

The GIDH initiative aims to bring countries and partners together to achieve measurable outcomes by developing clear priority-driven investment plans for digital health transformation; improving reporting and transparency of digital health resources; facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration across regions and countries to accelerate progress; supporting whole-of-government approaches for digital health governance in countries; and increasing technical and financial support to the implementation of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025 and its next phase. Digital health is a proven accelerator to advance health outcomes toward achieving Universal Health Coverage and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, elaborates WHO.

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