Thu, 08 Jun 2023

New Delhi [India], March 20 (ANI): Digital health is a critical imperative today as it can democratise healthcare and fast track universal health coverage in the South East Asian region, said Regional Director WHO South-East Asia Region Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

"Digital health can significantly improve the quality, accessibility, affordability and sustainability of person-centric health services and effectiveness of disease management. Digital health is a critical imperative today as it can democratize healthcare and fast track what our region has been working intensely towards since 2014 - universal health coverage," Dr Poonam Khetrapal said while addressing the Global Conference on Digital Health - Taking Universal Health Coverage to the Last Citizen.

She further highlighted the importance of the application of digital technologies to health in this ongoing COVID-19. She said that this pandemic time has particularly highlighted the importance of the application of digital technologies to health and its potential to strengthen health systems, prevent disease and enhance service delivery at the global, national and sub-national level.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya while virtually addressing the event said that digital health is a great enabler in the delivery of healthcare services and has the potential to support overall universal health coverage targets.

"India has adopted a two-pronged approach with a focus on digital health through policy framework and by creating a digital ecosystem for path-breaking interventions which focus on not just availability, accessibility, affordability but also equity of health services," Mansukh Mandaviya said.

The "Global Conference on Digital Health - Taking Universal Health Coverage to the Last Citizen" is a co-branded event under India's G20 Presidency organised by WHO - South-East Asia Region in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

Addressing the conference, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that each country must have its own digital health strategy, which should be evolving and dynamic, and must be part of a network to benefit from skill sets from outside.

Leveraging India's presidency of the G20 and the prolific actions and commitments of previous presidencies, the global conference is aimed at invigorating a high-level global dialogue on the foundations of digital health for UHC - the policies, interoperability, standards, capacity, public engagement, and governance required for an impactful transformation.

The conference is being attended by representatives and senior digital health delegates from about 40 WHO Member countries including G20 member states representatives, and global health development partners, philanthropies, multilateral financial institutions, health policymakers, digital health innovators and influencers.

Over the course of the two days, the conference will discuss actions to establish a global institutional mechanism to support ministries of health, specifically in low-and middle-income countries, and their health development partners to review, and access proved digital health solutions. The approach is to move from strategies to action and create an impact on the ground.

The deliberations will also focus on coordinated efforts to address the challenges of UHC with the responsive deployment of current and emerging digital technologies.

The conference will discuss pooling investments in developing Global digital public health goods by creating a pledge fund that can support resource-constrained settings to build up governance, institutional and workforce capacities, and connect digital health initiatives.

Building an institutional framework, positioned within the WHO governance mechanism, to oversee the development of the global digital health mechanism, the common pathways of cross-border collaboration in services, solutions and innovations, and strategic management and administration of a pledge fund is also expected to be discussed at the conference. (ANI)

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