WHO Assembly: Digital health agenda still shows slow progress

Member states value digital health for universal coverage and emergency response, but criticize WHO’s implementation for lacking leadership and progress on key initiatives.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) presented the current status of its digital health agenda at the World Health Assembly. As outlined in the 2020-2025 global strategy on digital health, the goal is to accelerate the development of person-centric digital health solutions focused on epidemics and pandemics and utilise health data for global health goals. The strategy emphasises factors such as accessibility, affordability, efficiency, sustainability, and data security in digital health solutions.

Member states view digital health as crucial for universal health coverage, emergency response, and promoting healthier populations. However, critics argue that WHO’s strategy implementation has been lacking, with inadequate leadership and progress on key initiatives like the Digital Health Clearinghouse and WHO data portal.

Some countries, including Indonesia, have increased investment in digital health. The UK government, in turn, acknowledged WHO’s efforts but called for further work in unlocking the benefits of digital health, emphasising the need for data governance, interoperability, and incentivising innovation. Furthermore, the International Pharmaceutical Students Association urged to empower young healthcare professionals in digital health education and innovation.