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21st February 2024 (11 Topics)

WHO launches Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH)

Context

Achieving one of the three priority areas agreed upon during India’s G20 presidency in 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH).

What is Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH)?

  • GIDH is a platform for sharing knowledge and digital products among countries.
  • The initiative will be a network of networks with four main components —
    • country needs tracker
    • country resource portal (a map of resources available in a country)
    • transformation toolbox that will share quality-assured digital tools
    • knowledge exchange

Through this evidence-based and comprehensive co-creation process, GIDH will ultimately aim to:

  • ALIGN efforts to support the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025;
  • SUPPORT quality assured technical assistance to develop and strengthen standards-based and interoperable systems aligned to global best practices, norms and standards;
  • FACILITATEthe deliberate use of quality assured digital transformation tools that enable governments to manage their digital health transformation journey.

What is the importance of Digital Health?

  • Digital health has the potential to prevent disease and lower healthcare costs, while helping patients monitor and manage chronic conditions.
  • It can also tailor medicine for individual patients.
  • Healthcare providers also can benefit from advances in digital health.
  • Digital tools give healthcare providers an extensive view of patient health by significantly increasing access to health data and giving patients greater control over their health.
  • The result is increased efficiency and improved medical outcomes.

What are the challenges of digital health?

  • Data interoperability: Due to the massive amounts of data collected from a variety of systems that store and code data differently; data interoperability is an ongoing challenge.
  • Additional challenges relate to concerns ranging from 
    • digital literacy among patients
    • unequal access to healthcare
    • issues related to data storage, access, sharing and ownership

Significance of the initiative

  • The platform will help in democratising digital health technologies, especially for countries of the Global South.
  • Digital health is a proven accelerator to advance health outcomes toward achieving Universal Health Coverage and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
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