February 22, 2024

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WHO adopts digital health resolution proposed by India

On 29 May, the Health and Family Welfare Minister Mr Jagat Prakash Nadda said that the resolution on digital health that was initiated by India, was adopted by the 71st World Health
Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization
(WHO). 

The 71st World Health Assembly was held from 20 to 26 May in Geneva and was attended by delegations
from all WHO member states. 

“I’m happy to share that the landmark resolution on #DigitalHealth – initiated
by India – was unanimously adopted by the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva.
India received widespread praise for its leadership on this forward-looking
agenda,” Mr Nadda tweeted.

While addressing the
Assembly, Mr Nadda said that digital health technology has the potential to support
the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and to improve the accessibility, quality and
affordability of healthcare services. To achieve this, Mr Nadda mentioned the programme
launched by Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi called 'Long Live India' (Ayushman Bharat),
that consists of health and wellness centres to provide healthcare services and
the Prime Ministers' National Health Protection Mission (NHPM).

Under the resolution, WHO will design a plan to
encourage and develop digital health internationally and identify priority
areas where WHO should direct its attention and efforts, and will urge member
states to asses and optimise their health systems to fall in line with the
global digital health agenda. 

Joint Secretary (International Health) Mr Lav
Agarwal, while introducing the Digital Health Resolution on behalf of India and
twenty other cosponsors, said that the resolution would help countries accomplish
their health-related SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) targets.

Additionally, it is important for WHO's
implementation of the 13th General Program of Work. The digital health agenda is inclusive, multisectoral
and cross-cutting by design. 

Mr Agarwal added the resolution aims to
digitally empower member states, WHO, health providers and, most importantly,
the patients. The aim is to transform the Digital Health Resolution into a
Digital Health Movement. 

The Digital Health Resolution intends to make
digital interventions in health mainstream, including big data and its
analytics, use of deep machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and new
developing technology, like genomics, in the field of healthcare services.
Digital health technologies that already exist include systems that can
track disease outbreaks by using "crowdsourcing" or community
reporting and mobile phone text messages to bring about positive change in
behaviour for the prevention and management of diseases like diabetes.

The resolution also aims to improve existing
health service delivery models, strengthen integrated, people-oriented health
services, to better the health of the general population, and to ensure health
equity, including gender equality.

According to Mr Nadda, India plans to host
a Global Digital Health Summit in the near future with the support of
WHO and he hopes it will contribute to WHO's efforts to create a comprehensive
global health plan regarding digital health. 

In February, at the Global Digital Health Partnership Summit at Canberra in
Australia
, Mr Nadda said India
is committed to reforms in health services delivery using Information
and Communication Technology

(ICT) and will take advantage of Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative. 

At the Summit, Mr Nadda emphasised the
importance of constructing a digital health ecosystem and creating partnerships
with private healthcare providers, members of the academic community, health
IT
 practitioners,
patient groups and regulatory bodies.

He also added that India plans
to create an integrated digital health platform that will enable the creation
of electronic health records for the 1.3 billion people of India.

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