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The Lancet: Our future health depends on radical change in approach to digital technologies – experts say

Lancet-Financial Times Commission presses for radical rethink on harnessing the power of digital technologies for our future health and sets out a fundamental new approach to digital technology that promotes equitable, affordable, and universal improvements to health.

Digital transformations are already well underway, but the authors warn that without a dramatic change from the current course of data-extractive, commercially-driven digital technologies, these will not deliver health benefits for all.

The expert authors call for digital access and literacy to be recognised as a key determinant of health as well as bold action in the areas of public trust in digital technologies and data solidarity—a radical new approach to the collection and use of data.

Digital transformations can improve health for all people around the world. But this is only possible if digital technology is governed in the public interest rather than for private profit, and the health for all values of democracy, equity, solidarity, inclusion, and human rights are put at the core of its design and use, according to a new Lancet and Financial Times Commission on Governing Health Futures 2030: growing up in a digital world.

The report warns that following the current path of data-extractive commercially driven digital transformations, will fail to deliver health benefits to all. Instead, a radical new approach is needed that redirects digital technologies to advance universal health coverage (UHC), ensures that the gains in digital health are equitable, and puts children and young people, who have been exposed to these technologies their entire lives, front and centre. With access to quality health information and services increasingly reliant on digital technologies and data, the Commission also calls for digital access and digital literacy to be recognised as a key determinant of health, and to ensure that every person has safe and affordable access to the Internet by 2030.

The Lancet-FT Commission is the result of two years of work from 19 leading experts from 14 countries, with backgrounds in global health, clinical medicine, public health, mental health, digital media, ICT, social science, economics, and politics, as well as global consultations with youth groups.
PharmAccess Country director Nigeria, Njide Ndili, is co-author of the report. She joined the Commission in 2019, as commissioner for Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lancet and Financial Times. Njide Ndili: ‘’The report recognizes the increasing relevance of digital technologies and data.

PharmAccess is among the organizations pushing for governance models that use data for the public good, so we can start to fully reap the benefits for the future of healthcare’’.

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