April 24, 2024

PAHO and the Inter-American Development Bank celebrate 5 years of collaboration on digital health in the Americas – PAHO/WHO

Washington DC 25 July 2023 – At an event to celebrate five years of collaboration in information systems and digital health between the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD), the Director of PAHO, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, emphasized the critical role of digital transformation in pandemic recovery and improving access to health.

During the event – Connecting Health for all – which took place on July 24 in Washington DC, Dr. highlighted. Barbosa also the urgent need to ensure that countries have the data and information necessary to monitor progress towards universal health, to identify gaps and to ensure that everyone in America can exercise their right to health.

“The alliance between PAHO and the IDB is vital because it focuses on problems highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Barbosa.

“During the early stages of the pandemic, there were American countries that could not see how many cases of COVID-19 they had every day, because their information systems were too weak.”

Even now, “it is unacceptable that some countries in our Region do not even know their maternal mortality rate,” he said.

To tackle these issues, the PAHO/IDB partnership has developed over 40 strategic actions to ensure the digital transformation of the health sector and through regional policies: a Action Plan to Strengthen Information Systems for Health; Regional Roadmap for the Digital Transformation of the Health Sector; and policy on the application of data science in public health using artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

“More importantly, more people are accessing digital health services because of the partnership,” said Dr. Barbosa.

Digital transformation, including investing in services such as health information systems, telemedicine, and electronic prescriptions, as well as other digital innovations in medicine such as artificial intelligence, is essential to ensure a renewed vision of primary healthcare, Dr. Barbosa emphasized. “Technology is completely different today than it was 45 years ago at Alma-Ata.”

“The American population needs better public services and one of them is health,” said IDB President Ilan Goldfajn. “The agenda we are developing has elements of what we believe are priorities,” including regional integration, data, efficiency, digitization and addressing inequality.

Thanks to the PAHO/IDB partnership, more than 15 countries in the Americas now have improved digital health foundations, and 10 countries have digital health agendas with ready infrastructure for cross-border data sharing.

Participant Quotes

Dr. Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness

“In the case of Jamaica, the digital transformation project has resulted in shorter waiting times, reduced costs of providing health services and greater efficiency. The digitization of health in America has never been more important and it is urgent.”

the dr. Jose Ruales, Minister of Public Health of Ecuador

“For our country, information systems are a top priority. We are investing heavily to improve our health system through digital transformation.”

Dr. Frank Anthony, Guyana’s Minister of Health

“Investing in connected health provides an opportunity to achieve universal health coverage and provide health for all. We ask partners to prioritize health digitization as a development platform.”

Ana Estela Haddad, Secretary of Information and Digital Health of Brazil

“The digital transformation of the health sector is a national priority for Brazil. We are confident that it is a critical factor in ensuring success as we strengthen the country’s first level of care.”

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