The World Federation of Publich Health Associations (WFPHA) presents a statement at the 71st World Health Assembly in May 2018 on the Responsible Use of Digital Technologies in Public Health.

71st World Health Assembly, Geneva, 21 – 26 May 2018

Agenda Item: 11.6 Global strategy and action plan on public health, innovation and intellectual property

The World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) is the only international, nongovernmental organization serving the broad field of public health on a global level.

The WFPHA salutes the global strategy and plan of action on innovation and intellectual property (A71/13). Additionally, the WFPHA acknowledges the efforts for mHealth, (EB142/20) use of appropriate digital technologies for public health. The goal to reach health for all will inevitably utilize digital technologies, as we seek to integrate emerging technologies into our health systems.

If public health practitioners and institutions embrace technology – as they must do in response to consumer market demands – we have to be aware of how they’re applied across different models of society. Public health must build and maintain the trust of the public by ensuring individual rights and privileges are preserved. In using data for research, public health must also address ethical considerations with the responsible use of “big data” in the interests of the public’s health.

In general, we already know about the accomplishments, limitations, and consequences (both intended and unintended) of using these technologies in public health and clinical medicine. As the digital technology industry continues to grow, all public health professionals must be aware of the effects and examine the pressures that can indirectly influence their basic values.
Engaged stakeholders in the realm of public health have the responsibility to take a proactive role and express the views of the society we seek to protect. Our vision is for a society where technology enhances access and equity towards health for all.

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