eHealth and the Inter-National Support – the Pandemic Case
The current spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has proved very important for the acceleration of human progress and to bridge the digital divide, becoming a crucial point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Free access to medical and health resources is a primary objective in the struggle toward a more conscious and equitable society.
According to the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025, in 2005 the World Health Assembly asked the Member States to draw up a long-term strategic plan for implementing eHealth services and infrastructures. The ultimate goal is to promote and guarantee affordable and universal access to health benefits and technological assistance. Fortunately, more than 120 Member States have promoted such strategies in their low- and middle-income economies, considering that the collaboration and membership of States and other organizations are essential in a field like e-medicine.
The process of creating a globally efficient health system is based on the characteristics and needs of each country, making it essential to design tailor-made strategies based on national resources and interests. This requires great commitment and coordination from the various governments and institutions involved, which must act accordingly by adopting legislative plans that make this development possible.
Despite the considerable progress made, the institutional support provided in many countries and the resources available are still weak and this makes the consolidation of national eHealth and national action plans more difficult.
The global mission is to provide health for everyone and everywhere by adopting accessible and sustainable digital solutions to prevent and respond to epidemics and pandemics, so as to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. This common goal must be pursued using digital tools aimed at stabilizing health care and well-being systems, with the participation of consumers themselves, health professionals, health care providers, and industries.
As it has already been mentioned, understanding the importance of the needs of each state is essential, so as to facilitate the legislative involvement of national governments and institutions, but the design of these global strategies is also based on United Nations General Assembly and the World Health Assembly resolutions. These take into account the WHO global and regional reports, which describe the different current health situations all over the world, to strengthen the tailor-made digital health plans.
These last few years have made this effort even more imperative and necessary to tackle the pandemic that has hit us. Since December 2019, in fact, COVID-19 spread around the world, infecting 197 million people and causing 4.2 million deaths (on August 3rd, 2021), leading world governments to experiment with new methods of containing the virus, the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) waiting for the development of vaccines and treatment.
The NPIs adopted were particularly effective also thanks to their compatibility with the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs).
The potential of these technologies is very powerful if used for data collecting and sharing, with the aim of contributing to the enhancement of preventive measures for health protection. All this research and collaboration will make it possible to create a stable and reliable network that will correct the inefficiencies of the pandemic response systems.
Obviously, this also has a great impact on the economy itself of the countries, that provide the required investments as best they can, creating specific fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the economic impact of social distancing.
Certainly, the challenges to be faced have been different in the world and while countries with advanced economies were able to implement large-scale fiscal policies, developing countries with low income struggled with economic challenges.
But this is not a goal that states can achieve on their own, in fact, other entities such as the UN bodies, including the WHO, and international agencies such as the World Bank have joined in their concerns and needs by providing as much support as possible and presenting generally useful proposals or recommendations.