Africa: Digital Health Virtual Roundtable With the Private Sector

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Department of Digital Health and Innovation

Distinguished guests, dear colleagues and friends,

Let me start by welcoming you all to today's roundtable, and by thanking you for your support for WHO during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the Tech4Covid initiative, 40 technology companies have worked with WHO on a pro bono basis to strengthen our technology and processes.

Digital technologies have been used to screen populations, track people who have been infected, and monitor the flow and supply of critical health resources.

Digital technologies are a vital tool to help strengthen primary health care and prevent the spread of resurgent or new diseases.

This is helping not only in our efforts to control the pandemic, but also in our work to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to future health emergencies.

Today's discussion is an important step in the process of creating a digital global health ecosystem.

The businesses you represent play an increasingly important role in global health, as we have seen during the pandemic.

Science and technology have always been central to WHO's mission and mandate.

One of WHO's unique strengths is our convening power to bring together the world's foremost experts, as we work to stay ahead of the curve and harness the best science for global health.

Many WHO preparedness activities rely on new technologies and tools for disease surveillance and pandemic response.

But while digital technology holds great promise, in the end it is only a tool. It is up to us to use it wisely.

Even as we make use of these powerful technologies, we must also address the disparity in access in low-income and underserved communities.

And for all populations, the overarching challenge is to preserve the privacy, safety, and integrity of individual health data, through methods such as dynamic consent.

WHO's Global Strategy on Digital Health is designed to help countries adopt these 21st century tools as part of their efforts toward universal health coverage, including by strengthening governance and data protection.

With the right oversight and regulatory guidance, digital health can be a powerful tool for building a healthier, safer and fairer world.

I wish you a productive discussion.

I thank you.

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