WHO, EU launch landmark digital health initiative

Mon, Jun 5, 2023
By editor


THE World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Commission have launched a landmark digital health partnership.

In a statement on Monday, it said it was the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN).

It said the network would develop a wide range of digital products to deliver better health for all.

“In June 2023, WHO will take up the EU system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system that will help facilitate global mobility.

“It will also help protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics,’’ it said.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said the new digital health products in development, aimed to help people everywhere receive quality health services quickly and more effectively.

“Building on the EU’s highly successful digital certification network, WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access to an open-source digital health tool.

“This is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy,’’ Ghebreyesus said.

The statement said that based on the EU and WHO Global Health Strategy on digital health, the initiative followed the Nov. 30, 2022 agreement.

It said the two agencies entered into agreement to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues.

According to it, it will further bolster a robust multilateral system with WHO at its core, powered by a strong EU.

Ms Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said that the partnership was an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy.

“By using European best practices we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally to the benefit of those most in need.

“It is also a powerful example of how alignment between the EU and the WHO can deliver better health for all, in the EU and across the world.

“ As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, there is no better partner than the WHO to advance the work we started at the EU.

“It will further develop global digital health solutions,’’ Kyriakides said.

According to her, the partnership will include close collaboration in the development, management and implementation of the WHO GDHCN system, benefitting from the European Commission’s ample technical expertise in the field.

She said that a first step was to ensure that the current EU digital certificates continued to function effectively.

Mr Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said that with 80 countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, the EU had set a global standard.

Breton said that the EU certificate had not only been an important tool in our fight against the pandemic but had also facilitated international travel and tourism.

“I am pleased that the WHO will build on the privacy-preserving principles and cutting-edge technology of the EU certificate to create a global tool against future pandemics,’’ he said.

The statement said that one of the key elements in the fight European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic had been digital COVID certificates.

According to it, to facilitate free movement within its borders, the EU swiftly established interoperable COVID-19 certificates (entitled ‘EU Digital COVID Certificate’ or ‘EU DCC’).

“Based on open-source technologies and standards it allowed also for the connection of non-EU countries that issue certificates according to EU DCC specifications, becoming the most widely used solution around the world,’’ it said. (NAN)