WHO urges increased investment in digital health

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The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe has called on its member states to "step up investments in digital health technologies and platforms to expand access to digital health for all," reported Xinhua.

The call to action came alongside the release of a report, "Digital Health in the European Region: the ongoing journey to commitment and transformation," by the WHO Regional Office for Europe here on Tuesday.

The report acknowledges that despite recent advances, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, more work is needed to accelerate the creation and use of digital health tools and policies.

"Digital health is the present and future of our health systems," WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said. "We (must) ensure that everyone wins, everyone benefits, and no one is left behind."

The report also points to considerable gaps and areas in need of further development within the European Region's digital health landscape.

According to the report, only 19 countries have established guidelines to assess the safety and efficacy of digital health interventions.

Just over half of the region's 53 countries have implemented digital health literacy policies and digital inclusion plans, and 30 countries introduced legislation to support telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The oversight of mobile health (mHealth) applications remains lax.

The report also flags the member countries' inconsistent approach to data strategy.

Slightly more than half of the countries in the region have formulated a strategy that governs the use of Big Data and advanced analytics in healthcare, according to the report.

Kluge emphasized that Europe is well-positioned to lead in this area but must adopt a long-term strategy.

"To unleash digital health's full potential, it must be a strategic investment, not a luxury or an add-on," he said.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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