Sunday August 25, 2019

India’s Digital Health Resolution Adopted by WHO

The 71st World Health Assembly was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.

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The 71st World Health Assembly was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.
Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda . Wikimedia Commons

Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda on Tuesday said the resolution on digital health brought out by India was adopted by the 71st World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“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,” Nadda said in a tweet.

The 71st World Health Assembly was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.

In his address at the Assembly, Nadda said: “Digital health technology have a huge potential for supporting Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improving accessibility, quality and affordability of health services. This is a resolution which should be owned by all of us so as to pave the path for a forward looking global health agenda.”

The resolution paves the path for WHO to establish a global strategy on digital health identifying priority areas including where WHO should focus its efforts and engages member states to optimize their health systems in sync with the global digital health agenda.

Introducing the resolution on digital health at the assembly on behalf of India and 20 cosponsors, Joint Secretary (International Health) Lav Agarwal last week said: “Digital health is important in the context of countries achieving health-related SDG targets as well WHO’s implementation of 13th General Program of Work. Digital health agenda is multisectoral and cross cutting in nature.

The 71st World Health Assembly was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.
WHO Flag, Wikimedia commons

“This resolution is about digitally empowering member states, WHO, health providers and above all the patients … We all need to embark on a journey from a Digital Health Resolution towards a Digital Health Movement.”

The resolution is the first step towards mainstreaming digital interventions in health including big data and its analytics, use of deep machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things and other emerging disciplines like genomics.

Nadda had also indicated that India was planning to host a Global Digital Health Summit in near future with the support of WHO and hoped it would contribute to WHO’s efforts to come up with a comprehensive global health strategy on digital health.

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In February, at the Global Digital Health Partnership Summit at Canberra in Australia, Nadda had said India is committed to reforms in health services delivery using Information and Communication Technology and it will take advantage of the Digital India programme.

Nadda had stressed on the importance of building digital health ecosystem partnerships with private healthcare providers, academia, health IT practitioners, industry, patient groups and regulatory bodies. He had also said India was planning to create an integrated digital health platform and enable creation of electronic health records for the 1.3 billion people of India. (IANS)

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WHO Voicing Concern about Growing Risk of Congo’s Ebola Spreading to Neighboring Countries

Fears that the deadly Ebola virus could spread to Congo's nine neighboring countries are growing with the death

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WHO, Congo, Ebola
A health worker sprays disinfectant on an ambulance at a Health Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 18, 2019. VOA

As the Ebola epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo enters its second year, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are voicing concern about the growing risk of the virus spreading to neighboring countries.

Fears that the deadly Ebola virus could spread to Congo’s nine neighboring countries are growing with the death of the second person confirmed to have had the disease in Goma, a city of more than one million people. Goma, the capital of conflict-ridden North Kivu province, borders Rwanda and DRC’s gateway to the rest of the world.

Uganda has had three imported cases of Ebola. While it has successfully contained the spread of the disease, WHO experts warn of the potential dangers should the virus enter South Sudan, which is a particularly vulnerable, unstable country.

This is the 10th Ebola outbreak over the past four decades in the DRC. The executive director of WHO Emergencies, Michael Ryan, finds this current one presents unprecedented challenges.

WHO, Congo, Ebola
As the Ebola epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo enters its second year, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are voicing concern. Pixabay

Ryan notes previous outbreaks were generally small, self-contained, and often confined to remote rural areas. This has changed. He says factors such as a conflict, forced migration, unsafe health facilities, and disease amplification are increasing the risks from emerging diseases.

“So, the risk of an individual disease emerging may not change,” he said. “But, the impacts of those emergencies are changing. In that sense it is a new normal and we need to be ready…About 80 percent of our high-impact epidemic responses are in fragile, conflict-affected, and vulnerable countries. So, about 30 countries around the world represent around 80 percent of these high-impact epidemics.”

Ryan says African countries need international assistance to help them strengthen their fragile health systems. Without this aid, he warns, Congo and other nations will have great difficulty in tackling future outbreaks of Ebola and other emerging diseases.

The World Health Organization has deployed more than 700 international experts in the field. The U.N. agency says it is scaling up Ebola preparation measures in the neighboring countries, especially Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda, which are most at risk.

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It says frontline health workers are being vaccinated against the disease, more Ebola treatment centers are being set up, and more than 3,000 health workers are screening people for the virus at major points of entry. (VOA)