WORLD | Jun 5, 2023

European Commission, WHO launch digital health initiative to strengthen global health security

/ Our Today

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The World Health Organization logo is pictured at the entrance of the WHO building, in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission have announced the launch of a landmark digital health partnership that will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from ongoing and future health threats, including pandemics.

The organization announced the partnership today (June 5). The organization said it 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.

In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system.

“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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via REUTERS)

He noted that there are also new digital health products in development that will help people everywhere receive quality health services quickly.

The initiative follows the 30 November 2022 agreement between Commissioner Kyriakides and Dr Tedros to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues. This further bolsters a robust multilateral system with WHO at the centre, powered by a strong EU.

“This partnership is 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 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,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Partnership to include close collaborations

The partnership will include close collaboration for the development, management, and implementation of the WHO GDHCN system, benefitting from the European Commission’s ample technical expertise in the field. One of the first steps is to ensure that the current EU digital certificates continue to function effectively.

“With 80 countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, the EU has set a global standard. 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,” added Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.


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