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article imageWHO pledges to support digital health expansion

By Tim Sandle     Nov 5, 2019 in Health
Digital health initiatives have been given a boost by the World Health Organization, which has pledged to help with the development of new technology while also working on a governance structure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged to work with different nations in order to maximise the benefits of digital health. While there is a focus on technology, WHO has also stated that a new governance structure and ethical code are also needed. These latter issues relate to data - who owns health data and how will the privacy of individuals be maintained?
The Director General of the WHO - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus - has pledged his support for health technology via a Twitter post, outlining the WHO's commitment to health and medical technology. The tweet also states that WHO will seek to ensure that digital health initiatives are subject to appropriate regulations. This forms part of the #Tek4HealthEquity promise, as PharmaPhorum reports.
To truly realise the benefits of #DigitalHealth, we have to address the governance gap and ethical considerations. @WHO’s aim is to support countries in maximizing benefits of digital technologies for a healthier, safer & fairer world. #Tek4HealthEquity
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 1, 2019
WHO has also unveiled plans to create a Department of Digital Health. This will seek to provide guidance and standards for digital health, include a division that will work on data forms, data analytics, and data delivery. With the department, WHO aims to “harness the power of digital health and innovation by supporting countries to assess, integrate, regulate and maximise the opportunities of digital technologies and artificial intelligence.”
With the plans, WHO is seeking to accelerate the use of digital technology to address various areas of global public health needs. The initiatives will be overseen by a Digital Health Technical Advisory Group. The group will include the ethical and equitable use of digital technology within its remit. Furthermore, the department will provide advice on advocacy and partnership models to accelerate use of digital health capabilities in countries to achieve better health outcomes, together with recommendations on emerging digital health technologies with the greatest global reach and impact.
WHO's plans also include the evaluation of new digital health technology, where the United Nations agency will validate, implement and scale up various types of health technology.
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