Global health leaders adopt Delhi Declaration on digital health
New Delhi, 27 February 2019: Ministers and government officials from over 35 countries committed to accelerate and implement the appropriate digital health interventions to improve health of their population at national and sub-national levels by 2023.
“Together we have opened a new chapter in the application of digital technology to health and its potential to strengthen health systems, prevent disease and enhance service delivery at the global, national and sub-national level. The Joint Declaration on Digital Health for Sustainable Development is indeed a landmark document,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South East Asia, at the 4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit.
The Delhi Declaration outlines that digital health is key to attaining sustainable development goals and improving the health and well-being of citizens. It encourages countries to update, implement and scale-up their digital health strategies and interventions, at national and sub-national levels. In promoting equitable, affordable and universal access to health for all, the Declaration calls for rapid and full use of digital health innovations to strengthen the health sector through public-private partnership. It also stresses on the need for norms and standards to address interoperability of data and systems, and cybersecurity.
With an emphasis on resource and knowledge sharing and to facilitate international collaboration, the Delhi Declaration calls for the WHO to establish a road map and assist Member countries in realizing their digital health strategies.
Dr. Khetrapal Singh highlighted WHO South-East Asia Region’s gains in digital health at the event saying that nine of the Region’s 11 Member States, have developed and are implementing digital health strategies and plans. Member countries are rapidly adopting patient-level digital health applications and services, including electronic medical records, telemedicine and mHealth apps and solutions, for patients and health care providers. These are particularly helpful for reaching remote communities. Hospitals Region-wide are now almost entirely digital.
At the Seventy-First World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, India had successfully introduced and facilitated the unanimous adoption of Resolution on Digital Health. This resolution highlights global attention to the potential, challenges and opportunities of Digital Health interventions and the need for closer collaboration on the issue globally.
Dr. Khetrapal Singh stated that the resolution, introduced and led by India, reflected the WHO South-East Asia Region’s broader commitment to leveraging digital health as a key component of its drive towards universal health coverage, which it is has pursued as a Flagship Priority since 2014.
“The adoption of the Delhi Declaration shows the collective endorsement and consensus on the role of digital health in achieving universal health coverage and sustainable development. Cooperation and partnerships among multiple countries with different core competencies are vital for the adoption and usage of digital health services and can dramatically reduce costs to the government and burden of the diseases,” said Ms Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health, India at the meeting yesterday.
The two-day (25-26 February) global intergovernmental meeting that discussed the impact of digital technologies on health systems and health services delivery, was hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Government of India, in collaboration with World Health Organization and the Global Digital Health Partnership.