How can we make health data a global public good?
New technologies are emerging and converging to create a new infrastructure that acts as a central nervous system of the global community, allowing data to be shared instantly across regions, borders, and oceans.
The current and future convergence of big health data - from personal, clinical, and environmental - combined with artificial intelligence (AI) offers unprecedented opportunities for public health. Pooling and sharing this data has the potential to reduce the barriers to accessing diagnostics and care, making it available to all.
If we act now, we have the opportunity to create a whole new health data ecosystem as part of the digital revolution, enabling it to become a global public good. If we don’t, we risk that self-interested groups take advantage and use this data for commercial gain, and in the worst case, for malicious purposes.
Despite making significant progress in health services, there are still notable imbalances in terms of equitability and access to care. There is currently a worldwide shortage of 7.2 million health workers, a figure that is set to be approximately 18 million by 2030. (Global strategy on human resources for health: Workforce 2030. WHO 2016)
At the same time, according to the World Bank and the International Telecommunications Union, more than 93% of the world’s population is covered by mobile phone networks, with more than 60% of people living in low- income countries having a mobile phone subscription. (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank. 2018)
This has created an enormous opportunity to leverage these technologies - and their uptake - to rebalance equitable access to diagnostics and care, thus aiding in bridging the capacity gap. Where current debate focuses on the opportunities that technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution bring, we have a responsibility to move from talk to action and harness the potential now.
To find out more about what can be done, click here.
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