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2019: Unleashing opportunities for digital health

Stefan Germann

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2019 has been a momentous year in the advent of digital technologies in global health.

We’ve seen the World Health Organisation (WHO) take one of the largest departmental reforms in its history, announcing the establishment of it’s Digital Health Department. We heard from thinkers across sectors on the opportunities and recommendations for integrating such technologies in low-resource settings. We watched the most comprehensive political declaration on universal health coverage, while 12 health agencies simultaneously committed to accelerating regional efforts on data and digital health as part of a Global Action Plan. 

Our foundation was at the forefront of global, national and local developments. We co-supported the unveiling of a new Commission on the convergence of digital in future health approaches for young people, we helped drive the first digitally-enabled community health initiative to serve children and adolescents in Kibaha, Tanzania, and enabled the integration of Swahili and Romanian languages to extend to reach of Ada’s health guidance app.

And we welcomed youth perspectives as the digital natives and drivers of the agenda on the role of technology in their health, in what has wrongly been an adult debate.

Though it’s also been a year for questioning. With all these steps, are we any closer to realising health systems that truly serve our youth populations? Global reports show that while progress has been prominent in low-income countries, child and adolescent health services have been neglected. 

In the final decade on the path to Sustainable Development Goals, we must be both mindful and urgent in our efforts. Countries are still facing increasing pressures to extend the reach of their health services and, when used equitably, digital technologies offer us important solutions. 

Next year will see us stay committed to meaningfully collaborating across sectors and consulting with all stakeholders. I personally can’t wait to see how digital approaches are further harnessed to empower young people in their wellbeing in 2020 and beyond.

With special thanks to all our dedicated partners across the globe who have supported our vision to drive this agenda forward. 

See you next year.

Stefan Germann,
CEO Fondation Botnar

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