Using Technology to Advance Global Health: A Workshop

When: May 11, 2017 (8:30 AM Eastern)
Where: 1777 F St. NW (Rockefeller-Peterson Room) • Washington, D.C. 20006

Topics Global Health, Health Services, Coverage, and Access, Select Populations and Health Equity
Activity: Forum on Public-Private Partnerships for Global Health and Safety
Board: Board on Global Health

An ad-hoc committee will be appointed to plan a 1-day public workshop to examine the use of technology to advance global and national health priorities in low- and middle-income countries. The workshop will feature invited presentations and discussions.

Workshop Objectives: 

  • To identify and explore the major challenges and opportunities for developing and implementing digital health strategies within the global, country, and local context
  • To frame the case for cross-sector and cross-industry collaboration, engagement, and investment in digital health strategies
  • To discuss how health and the health sector can drive other sectors to adopt digital technologies as a common platform
  • To identify the ecosystem of actors necessary for successful digital health strategies, and country/local level solutions for moving forward

Workshop Context:

Current global health priorities, such as the targets of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are ambitious. Setting an agenda for the next fifteen years, targets have been established to drastically reduce maternal mortality as well as premature mortality from non-communicable diseases. Targets call for ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases among others, as well as achieving universal health coverage and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services. While vast improvements have been made in global health in the past decades, the health challenges that weigh disproportionately on low- and middle-income countries (LMICS) continues to stand as a barrier to achieving poverty reduction and economic prosperity as intended by the SDGs. Meeting these targets, particularly reaching the last mile to achieve eradication or 100 percent population coverage, calls for innovative approaches. In this regard the global community has recognized the value of digital technology as a transformational tool to push forward the SDGs. Technology can help build on the interconnection among the goals, realize multiple benefits, as well as avoid barriers and conflicts on the path toward reaching the SDGs.

Digital solutions can increase progress toward better health in LMICs through speed and reach, whilst increasing access to goods and services in a more people-centric, affordable, and sustainable way. Digital solutions that contribute to the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development can provide attractive business opportunities. The information and communication technology sector, in particular, has existing stakes in the digital world and has shown increasing interest in the broader concept of a more connected digital lifestyle, of which health is a vital factor. The prospect of the value creation for investing in both digital ventures as well as health improvement creates incentive for multisectoral involvement with both the public and private sectors finding value in developing partnerships with a digital health focus. Public-private partnerships promote a multidisciplinary approach to developing solutions, which is ultimately beneficial to all partners and the countries in which they operate.

Digital solutions in health include categories such as mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (IT), information and communication technology (ICT), wearable devices, telehealth, and telemedicine. Applications of digital health are being used to reduce inefficiencies, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality, and personalize care. However, in LMICs often the potential of digital health is not being realized because of an existing fragmented landscape in which multiple public and private actors and agencies with varied technologies and interests are working separately and with overlap. In this fragmented landscape, scaling of promising digital health solutions is often impeded by a lack of coordinated funding that aligns with government priorities, limited regional leadership and peer support, and a lack of support and availability of open source technologies that could be reused or adapted. Developing digital health-focused PPPs based on government and community identified priorities can help connect the dots among the many stakeholders within the digital health landscape, foster coordination and integration, engage both public and private sector stakeholders in tackling existing challenges, and increase the potential for impact.

Registration for this meeting is now closed. Videos and presentations from the meeting are available on this webpage. 

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