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WHO lauds India’s digital health, urges world to emulate it

India’s successful adoption of digital health technologies can provide lessons for accelerating the progress towards universal health coverage for all countries, a top WHO official said on Monday.

What is crucial is to achieve a level-playing field for making sure that these technologies are available widely for all countries, Dr Alain Labrique, Director, Department of Digital Health and Innovation at WHO, said.

He spoke at a session on “Digital Health Innovations and Solutions to Aid Universal Health Coverage and Improve Healthcare Service Delivery” on the second day of the third G20 Health Working Group meeting here on Monday.

“When we talk about digital health, we are talking about strengthening primary health care systems, improving universal health coverage, and timely and relevant data for decision making and resource allocation. Most important, we are talking about equity so that no one is left behind. Digital health is a proven pathway to achieve universal health goals,” he said.

On India’s G20 presidency, especially in the context of digital health, Labrique said there has been a fruitful set of discussions around the G20 building on India’s long leadership in the space of digital innovation and leveraging digital technologies to achieve health for all.

“I think what we are trying to do is level the playing field, making sure that these technologies are available widely for countries all across the globe looking to undertake a process of digital health transformation, to make sure that we able to reach the last mile with quality assured technologies that can deliver the services that people are expecting from their governments,” he said.

The world is on the verge of an important digital health revolution, wherein post pandemic the appetite for investing in digital technology is greater than it ever has been, Labrique stated.

“So the time is now to learn from successes like India and its neighbours to apply those successful lessons and really accelerate the progress towards universal health coverage and amplify the capacity of digital tools to achieve these goals,” he said.

Underscoring the relevance and importance of digital health, he said the pandemic has galvanized many governments to move from digital experimentation to digital transformation.

The global initiative on digital health levels the playing field, optimizing investments, democratizing access to the building blocks and improving the responsiveness that the country needs.

He emphasised that digitalization of global health systems in inevitable.

Underlining its ramifications, he said, “Whether it happens in a way that ensures quality, efficiency, equity and inclusion will depend on whether we as a group move together.” Highlighting the role of India’s G20 presidency, he said, “We as a group must invest strategically. This will enable cross-border exchange of credential health information now available to all member states.” PTI

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