Press release from TransformHealth

By selma .

Transform Health Launches Report on Digital Health Investment with Key Recommendations for Funders

‘Closing the digital divide: More and better funding for the digital transformation of health’ – a new report by Transform Health – lays out six key recommendations for governments and international funders to effectively channel investments in low and middle-income countries to digitally transform health systems.

The report estimates that an investment of approximately US$2.5 billion is needed each year for five years, in nine identified priority investment areas, to digitalise health systems in low- and middle-income countries and accelerate progress towards the goal of Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

18 October 2022

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, Transform Health launched a new report titled ‘Closing the digital divide: More and better funding for the digital transformation of health’, that calls attention to the urgent need for increased and coordinated funding for digital health.

The report frames the thinking on how to guide investments and action for digital health transformation in low and middle income countries. It lays out six key recommendations for national governments, corporates, and international donors to increase and improve investments towards building digitally-enabled health systems that improve health outcomes for all.

It calls for:

More investment from domestic and international sources
Better coordinated investments, aligned with national priorities
Costed national digital health strategies and investment road maps to guide transformation
Robust regulatory frameworks and policy environments in countries
Mechanisms for meaningful multistakeholder engagement in the digital transformation process, including civil society and marginalised communities
Improved digital connectivity, including coverage gaps, affordability and digital literacy
“We have reached a stage in global digital health where we are collectively thinking beyond the introduction of individual digital solutions, instead focusing on guidance and investments in the architecture and the enabling environment for digital transformation of health systems,” says Prof. Alain Labrique, Director, Dept of Digital Health & Innovation, World Health Organization, who writes the Foreword to the report.

The report identifies nine priority areas for digital health investments, ranging from health financing to data governance. Based on a costed estimate of these nine areas, it estimates an annual investment of 2.5 billion USD over the next five years as a minimum requirement for progress to be made towards digital health transformation in low and middle-income countries.

Key within these priority areas is investment in greater digital connectivity. Christoph Benn, President of Transform Health says, “A large part of the total projected investment – about three-quarters of it – is for digital connectivity infrastructure within the health sector. This is a critical investment area to ensure that every health worker, health facility and household is connected. If ignored, the divide in connectivity will widen the health equity gap and further marginalise disadvantaged populations.”

As countries across the globe demonstrate that digital health can lead to improved health outcomes, the digital transformation of health systems could hold the key to achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030. Increased and coordinated investments that are aligned to national priorities are a critical component on the path towards an equitable, inclusive and sustainable digital transformation.

Mathilde Forslund, Executive Director of Transform Health, concludes, “The report is a milestone for Transform Health, as it will underpin the coalition’s advocacy efforts with governments and international funders in the coming years to call for increased and coordinated domestic and international financial investments towards digital health transformation.”

The report can be accessed online on 18 October at: bit.ly/digital-health-funding

ABOUT TRANSFORM HEALTH

Transform Health is a global coalition of organisations, individuals and institutions that advocate for the equitable digital transformation of health systems – to achieve health for all.

Technical note:

The modelling of the cost for nine priority investment areas (US$ 2.5 billion) focuses on 78 low and lower-middle-income countries, according to the World Bank’s classification. Due to missing purchasing power parity (PPP) values, five countries considered low or lower-middle-income have not been included from the analysis: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen.
Although we have projected an average funding need of US$ 2.5 billion per year for the next five years for nine priority digital health investments areas for these countries, the true investment requirement will ultimately be determined country by country and based on costed plans.
The nine digital health investment areas included in the modelling, are based on a global survey, with more than 350 respondents, and confirmed through discussions with subject matter experts and with Transform Health’s Global Research Consortium, whose members represent an array of regional and youth partners.
Although priorities, the nine investment areas do not represent an exhaustive list of investments needed for a full digital transformation of health systems. Instead, they represent building blocks that may require complementary country-specific investments for a full digital transformation. The estimated cost does not include the wider investment needed to increase digital connectivity and usage among the populations as well as investments to address the greater enabling environment.