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EU, WHO launch landmark digital health initiative to strengthen global health security

June 5, 2023

By Reporter

The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission on Monday announced the launch of a landmark digital health partnership to protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics.

Based on the EU Global Health Strategy and WHO Global strategy on digital health, the initiative follows the November 30, 2022 agreement between EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, and and WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues.

The Humanitarian Post reports that in June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system that will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics.

This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN) that will develop a wide range of digital products to deliver better health for all.

The new digital health initiative aims to further bolsters a robust multilateral system with WHO at its core, powered by a strong EU.

Ghebreyesus, said that the new digital health products in development aim 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, which is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy,” Ghebreyesus said.

Kyriakides, said that the partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy, 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 and further develop global digital health solutions,” Kyriakides said.

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

Breton said that the EU certificate has not only been an important tool in our fight against the pandemic, but has 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,” Breton said.

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.

A first step is to ensure that the current EU digital certificates continue to function effectively.

The Humanitarian Post

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