IGF 2021 WS #163 Digital health blueprints for a post-pandemic world

Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (12:50 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (13:50 UTC)
Conference Room 1+2

Organizer 1: Susana Barria, People's Health Movement
Organizer 2: Matheus Falcão, People's Health Movement
Organizer 3: Thomas Schwarz, Medicus Mundi International - Network Health for All
Organizer 4: Nicoletta Dentico, Society for International Development

Speaker 1: Junho Lee, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Barbara Prainsack, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Anita Gurumurthy, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Matheus Falcão, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Nandini Chami, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Susana Barria, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Social inequality and the pandemic: What can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic context about the relationship between digital inequality and social and economic inequality? Similarly, what lessons can be drawn with respect to the pandemic and Internet-related human rights? What does this suggest about policy approaches for digitalisation and digital inclusion?
Economic and social inclusion and sustainable development: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for social and economic inclusion set out in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Conventions on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, on the Rights of the Child, and on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts?

Health equity and inclusion in the digital age are contingent on a range of policies that connect the dots between a universal right to health and human-rights based internet paradigm. The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the digitalization and datafication of health but the lack of rights-based governance frameworks to undergird this transition has opened up a host of concerns pertaining to fair and equitable access to health services, especially for those from marginal social locations. Against this backdrop, through a panel discussion, this session aims to examine potential directions for the evolution of digital health policy frameworks that can promote the collective social policy vision of the right to health from global-to-local level.


3. Good Health and Well-Being

Targets: Our workshop looks at what necessary policy and regulatory steps are needed to ensure that digital health solutions can be implemented in a way whereby inequalities in access to healthcare are reduced, thereby helping countries – especially in the global South – achieve SDG Goal 3 and its targets pertaining to good health and wellbeing for all. Our experience from the pandemic shows that rather than help in addressing health issues and crises, digital health technologies are mostly inaccessible to those communities most in need of them. The existing digital divides only serve to widen existing inequities, even in the realm of healthcare. Therefore, our workshop brings in diverse stakeholders working in this field to provide an informed understanding of how we can better design a digital health and data policy framework that ensures the full inclusion in health services of the most vulnerable citizens, so that no one is left behind.


The pandemic has prised open a complex array of health related policy issues, putting the spotlight also on digitalisation, networked health informatics systems and services. Various dimensions of internet-related human rights have assumed centrestage. Connectivity related barriers have caused deep divides in health information and services access, digital ID programmes have been integrated with vaccine delivery without appropriate data protection laws, and invasive state surveillance has been normalised in the name of disease surveillance. Beyond these immediately visible rights issues are also others at the core of the right to health that have acquired impetus during the pandemic. The digitalisation of health systems has brought in new harms and risks in the form of privatization of public data, while decisions made by smart systems for diagnosis have opened up questions of algorithmic bias, infrastructural safety and accountability. Private initiatives in telemedicine have individualised risks, also creating unregulated markets in health care. Health equity and inclusion in the digital age are contingent on a global-to-local policy response that connects the dots between a universal right to health and human-rights based internet paradigm, and this needs to be evolved right now. Recognising personal data protection as a non-negotiable step in a rights-oriented digital health framework, the session will also move beyond, exploring a macro-social approach to equity, inclusion, participation and public interest in digital health interventions.

Expected Outcomes

Through an in-depth panel discussion between members of a global civil society organisation working on people’s right to health, a digital rights organisation, a representative from the international public health agency PAHO, and a private sector representative from the global South, this session aims at identifying the building blocks of a digital health policy blueprint that can protect and promote a 'health for all' agenda. In specific, the session will address the following questions: - How can digital health promote effective reach of quality health services for all? - How should emerging policies for smart systems and AI in health services be designed for accountability? - How can rules and protocols for public health data systems deepen local R and D and increase resilience of local health systems? The main proposer of the session, People’s Health Movement, will take the insights from the session into their ongoing project of evolving digital justice principles for the health sector domain.

As a global organisation whose foundation is in civil society organising and dialogue, the People’s Health Movement has a lot of experience in organising vibrant digital dialogues and interactive panels and webinars. The moderator from People’s Health Movement – Matheus Falcao – brings this wealth of experience into guiding and anchoring the panel discussion and fostering audience engagement. There are 5 speakers and each of them will get 5 minutes to make their opening inputs. Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change, India (confirmed) Barbara Prainsack, University of Vienna, Austria (confirmed) Junho Jung, People’s Health Movement (confirmed) Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, Managing Partner, Health Ethics and Law Consulting (to be confirmed) Carissa F. Etienne , Pan American Health Organisation (to be confirmed) This leaves 50% of the time for open audience interaction. We have designated an online moderator as well to assist the on-site moderator from PHM so that participant interaction can be maximised if the event is in hybrid format.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.