In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented shift in demand for health data and a recognition of the value of data to improve health outcomes for people in low- and middle-income countries. To meet this demand, developing countries began to advance and improve their national data systems. Increasingly, data previously locked in paper systems are now available electronically for distribution and analysis at all levels, a growing body of digital health global public goods is available, and human capacity in low- and middle- income countries to manage digital tools allows countries to think more ambitiously about how to utilize data.
These advances are even more remarkable given the high degree of fragmentation, duplication, and lack of interoperability that characterize many developing country digital health systems. We are now at an inflection point where significant advances to enable improved health, economic and gender equity, and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will require greater coordination among donors that fund digital systems.
It is essential and urgent for donors to align their investments to country digital health strategies that are in support of national health strategies. This is required to enable countries to pursue an integrated approach to strengthening health systems, to enhance and extend the delivery of quality health services, and to improve data (and the capacity to use it) for improved health outcomes.
Collaborate to align investments with national digital health strategies.
2. Invest in national plans
Prioritise investments in national plans that incorporate “digital global goods” and avoid bespoke systems.
3. Enable sustainable investment
Engage early to determine and quantify long-term costs of operating, maintaining, and supporting digital health systems for sustainable country ownership.
4. Track & measure
Track investments, progress, learnings and successes in digital health systems in a transparent manner.
5. Strengthen skills
Strengthen donor technical skills and core capacities, including awareness of the Principles for Digital Development.
At the same time, donors will invest in:
6. Creation and evolution
The creation and evolution of a country’s national digital health strategy, policies and regulatory framework. Strategies include components such as architecture, standards, investment frameworks, privacy protection, and detailed operational and monitoring plans.
7. Maturity continuum
Systems at a level appropriate to the country’s progress along the digital health maturity continuum.
8. Country capacity
Sustainable country capacity for digital health leadership, governance, implementation, oversight, global good adoption, and donor coordination.
9. Global goods
Scalable, sustainable, accessible, interoperable, and evidence-based digital health global goods that meet country priorities.
10. Information and peer-learning
Diverse stakeholder information-sharing and peer-learning networks at country and regional levels to foster coordination and alignment of implementation activities.
These principles complement other international development commitments such as Sustainable Development Goals, UHC2030, the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, and the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda on Aid Effectiveness.
As of 1st May 2018, the following organisations have been actively involved in the creation of the Principles of Donor Alignment for Digital Health:
African Development Bank (AfDB)
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
•German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Global Affairs Canada
Global Financing Facility (GFF)
International Development Research Center (IDRC)
International Telecommunications Union
Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC)
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
World Health Organization (WHO)