Digital Health during COVID-19: Informatics Dialogue with the World Health Organization

Sabine Koch, William R. Hersh, Riccardo Bellazzi, Tze Yun Leong, Moctar Yedaly, Najeeb Al-Shorbaji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: On December 16, 2020 representatives of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA), a Non-Governmental Organization in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), along with its International Academy for Health Sciences Informatics (IAHSI), held an open dialogue with WHO Director General (WHO DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the opportunities and challenges of digital health during the COVID-19 global pandemic. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this paper is to report the outcomes of the dialogue and discussions with more than 200 participants representing different civil society organizations (CSOs). METHODS: The dialogue was held in form of a webinar. After an initial address of the WHO DG, short presentations by the panelists, and live discussions between panelists, the WHO DG and WHO representatives took place. The audience was able to post questions in written. These written discussions were saved with participants' consent and summarized in this paper. RESULTS: The main themes that were brought up by the audience for discussion were: (a) opportunities and challenges in general; (b) ethics and artificial intelligence; (c) digital divide; (d) education. Proposed actions included the development of a roadmap based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. CONCLUSIONS: Decision making by policy makers needs to be evidence-based and health informatics research should be used to support decisions surrounding digital health, and we further propose next steps in the collaboration between IMIA and WHO such as future engagement in the World Health Assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-16
Number of pages4
JournalYearbook of medical informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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