With notes from the World Health Organization website, Dr. John Campbell explains the WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network. To see the WHO’s press release click here or scroll below the video where it is attached.
From the youtube channel of Dr. John Campbell
Press release from the World Health Organization
The European Commission and WHO launch landmark digital health initiative to strengthen global health security
The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission have announced today the launch of a landmark digital health partnership.
In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system that will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics. This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN) that will develop a wide range of digital products to deliver better health for all.
“Building on the EU’s highly successful digital certification network, WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access to an open-source digital health tool, which is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “New digital health products in development aim to help people everywhere receive quality health services quickly and more effectively”.
Based on the EU Global Health Strategy and WHO Global strategy on digital health, the initiative follows the 30 November 2022 agreement between Commissioner Kyriakides and Dr Tedros to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues. This further bolsters a robust multilateral system with WHO at its core, powered by a strong EU.
“This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy. By using European best practices we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally—to the benefit of those most in need. It is also a powerful example of how alignment between the EU and the WHO can deliver better health for all, in the EU and across the world. As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, there is no better partner than the WHO to advance the work we started at the EU and further develop global digital health solutions,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
This partnership will include close collaboration in the development, management and implementation of the WHO GDHCN system, benefitting from the European Commission’s ample technical expertise in the field. A first step is to ensure that the current EU digital certificates continue to function effectively.
“With 80 countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, the EU has set a global standard. The EU certificate has not only been an important tool in our fight against the pandemic, but has also facilitated international travel and tourism. I am pleased that the WHO will build on the privacy-preserving principles and cutting-edge technology of the EU certificate to create a global tool against future pandemics,” added Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.
A global WHO system building on EU legacy
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. To facilitate free movement within its borders, the EU swiftly established interoperable COVID-19 certificates (entitled ‘EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate’ or ‘EU DCC’). Based on open-source technologies and standards it allowed also for the connection of non-EU countries that issue certificates according to EU DCC specifications, becoming the most widely used solution around the world.
From the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidelines for such certificates. To help strengthen global health preparedness in the face of growing health threats, WHO is establishing a global digital health certification network which builds upon the solid foundations of the EU DCC framework, principles and open technologies. With this collaboration, WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure with the aim to allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. This includes standard-setting and validation of digital signatures to prevent fraud. In doing so, WHO will not have access to any underlying personal data, which would continue to be the exclusive domain of governments.
The first building block of the global WHO system becomes operational in June 2023 and aims to be progressively developed in the coming months.
A long-term digital partnership to deliver better health for all
To facilitate the uptake of the EU DCC by WHO and contribute to its operation and further development, WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, which may include, for example, the digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
This cooperation is based on the shared values and principles of transparency and openness, inclusiveness, accountability, data protection and privacy, security, scalability at a global level, and equity. The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation. Particular attention will be paid to equitable opportunities for the participation by those most in need: low and middle-income countries.
Dr. John Campbell’s Presentation notes:
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network
WHO has established the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN). Open-source platform, built on robust & transparent standards, that establishes the first building block of digital public health infrastructure, for developing a wide range of digital products, for strengthening pandemic preparedness
Background Member States used digital COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, at the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidance for such certificates and published the Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates
there is a recognition of an existing gap, and continued need for a global mechanism, that can support bilateral verification of the provenance of health documents
The GDHCN may include Digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, verification of prescriptions across borders
International Patient Summary Verification of vaccination certificates within and across borders Certification of public health professionals (through WHO Academy) Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for people across the globe.
The GDHCN has been designed to be interoperable with other existing regional networks EU-WHO digital partnershipWHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system, that will help facilitate global mobility
This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN)
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access, On the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy, we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market The EU certificate … has also facilitated international travel and tourism I am pleased that the WHO will build on …. cutting-edge technology … to create a global tool against future pandemics
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure … allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation.
Alberta says first steps to reform provincial health delivery system coming this fall
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks to the media in Calgary, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. Smith says the first steps are coming this fall to reconfigure Alberta’s health delivery system – a plan the Opposition calls a recipe for more chaos from a government fresh off turning lab testing into a debacle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Premier Danielle Smith says the first steps are coming this fall to reconfigure Alberta’s health delivery system — a plan the Opposition calls a recipe for more chaos from a government fresh off turning lab testing into a debacle.
“We will not delay,” Smith told mayors, councillors and other local leaders at the Alberta Municipalities convention Friday.
She said Health Minister Adriana LaGrange is to present her proposal to Smith and cabinet Wednesday on how to decentralize Alberta Health Services.
“If we get the cabinet approval and the caucus approval, we would be moving on some of that direction in the fall so that we are prepared for the new budget cycle in February.”
Smith has directed LaGrange to revamp the structure of Alberta Health Services, better known as AHS, saying it needs to be more responsive to regional needs and focus more on direct hospital care.
She has said LaGrange will look at whether AHS still needs to be in charge of non-acute functions such as midwifery, primary care staffing and continuing care.
Alberta finished centralizing its health system 15 years ago to create AHS.
Smith has made AHS reform the centrepiece of her leadership.
Last year, she fired the governing board of AHS and replaced it with a single administrator. She blamed the agency for failing to step up during the COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals came close to being overrun with patients.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Smith’s plan is only going to make things worse, particularly given the province abandoned last month its attempt to fully privatize community lab services after the changes resulted in long waits for tests in Calgary and southern Alberta.
“People all across this province are struggling to get access to lab (testing) now because of the dysfunction of this UCP (government),” Notley told reporters after her speech to Alberta Municipalities delegates.
“Overlaying more disorganization on top of that is a recipe for further undermining our health care and our public health care.
“There is not a single solitary thing that this UCP government has done under (former premier) Jason Kenney’s leadership or Danielle Smith’s leadership that has made our health care better.”
Alberta Municipalities represents and speaks for villages, towns and cities that make up about 85 per cent of the province’s population.
Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam, the newly elected president of Alberta Municipalities, said they’re hoping for changes and improvements to fix doctor shortages and emergency rooms forced to limit their operating hours.
“I was speaking with members of council from Ponoka and hearing that their emergency room had been shut down nearly 20 times this year so far,” Gandam told reporters.
“The last thing that a person should be worrying about is whether or not the emergency room is going to be open or an ambulance is going to able to respond to their call when they need it.”
The convention focused mainly on calls for more funding from the province.
On Thursday, delegates voted 98 per cent on a motion calling on the province to roll back years of municipal funding cuts on infrastructure.
The association says the province has cut both per capita spending and the percentage of total budget spending for years, resulting in about $1.3 billion less investment in community infrastructure per year that needs to be returned, particularly as the province continues to attract thousands more newcomers a year.
Smith said she will look at ways to get more money to municipalities to help bring property taxes down along with more one-time funding from recent budget surpluses to help accelerate capital projects.
“’I’ve watched it happen many times that we’re very generous (and) increase the funding when times are good, and then when times turn the other way, we ask you to take a pretty big haircut, and that puts a lot of extra pressure on you,” Smith told the delegates.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.
Food insecurity among Indigenous kids is a ‘public health crisis,’ doctors say
Fresh produce is shown at a market in Toronto on Wednesday Feb. 2, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
By Nicole Ireland
Family physician Dr. Rebekah Eatmon sees parents in tears, frustrated that they can’t provide enough healthy food for their children.
“I’ve never met an Indigenous parent that doesn’t want to do the best for their kids,” said Eatmon, who works at an Indigenous clinic in Vancouver and in two remote First Nations in B.C.
Rising food prices have put “an even bigger burden on families who were struggling before,” said the doctor, who is a member of Lax Kw’alaams First Nation on her father’s side and Métis on her mother’s side.
As families across Canada grapple with the increasing cost of groceries, a new study says First Nations, Métis and Inuit children and youth have been disproportionately affected by food insecurity for years — to the point that it’s an “urgent public health crisis.”
“The seriousness of this in Indigenous communities is unlike any other population,” said Dr. Anna Banerji, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study, which was recently published in the journal PLOS Global Public Health.
Banerji and her co-authors looked at dozens of peer-reviewed research studies, as well as reports from First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, to determine the extent of food insecurity among Indigenous children in Canada.
“Moderate” food insecurity is defined by Statistics Canada as a “compromise in quality and/or quantity of food consumed.”
“Severe” food insecurity is defined as “reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns.”
The data show a disproportionately higher rate of moderate to severe food insecurity among Indigenous people living both on and off reserve, the study said, although people living in rural and remote Indigenous communities in the North were at especially high risk, partly because of extremely high food costs.
“(In) some of these Indigenous communities, it is to the point where some children don’t have food to eat all day long,” said Banerji.
One study of Inuit children in Nunavik, the northernmost region of Quebec, found that children from food-insecure homes were an average of two centimetres shorter than those from food-secure homes.
“It’s incomprehensible that in a country as rich as Canada that we have kids who are stunted and children who are starving,” she said.
Moderate to severe food insecurity can lead to malnutrition, which affects the “physical, intellectual, emotional (and) social development of the child,” said Dr. Véronique Pelletier, a pediatrician at CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal and a co-author of the study.
Malnutrition can be caused not only by a lack of food, but by a lack of high-quality, nutritious food, she said.
For example, many Indigenous families who live in remote areas can’t get healthy food, including meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, because they are perishable and won’t last long after being transported long distances, the study said.
Those types of food are also out of reach for many Indigenous people because they can’t afford to buy them.
That means that many Indigenous children have obesity but are nutrient-starved, because their diets consist largely of more affordable carbohydrate or fat-heavy food, the study said.
Eatmon, who was not involved in the study, said its findings ring true.
”Families know what the best things are for their kids. I’ve never chatted with a family that wants to give their kids Eggos over blueberries,” she said.
“But the reality is the blueberries will spoil in a couple days and the Eggos will stay for months inside their freezer.”
The long-lasting effects of colonization are driving factors behind much of the food insecurity Indigenous people face, the study said, because they disrupted sources of healthy food such as traditional hunting, fishing and gathering.
“Over thousands of years, Indigenous populations have adapted to a diet suitable to their environment,” the study said. That diet included animals and plants harvested locally.
“Some cultural sharing practices involving feasts and ceremonies were outlawed, resulting in loss of intergenerational knowledge of traditional food procurement and preparation,” it said.
In addition, trauma from residential schools and discrimination has fuelled “underemployment and poverty for some individuals and communities” — which in turn leads to a lack of ability to afford nutritious food.
Combating food insecurity requires Indigenous-led solutions that are specific to each community’s needs, said Deyowidron’t Teri Morrow, a dietitian at Six Nations of the Grand River in southwestern Ontario.
Morrow, who was not involved in the study, pointed to food shortages in grocery stores during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown as an example of how her First Nation was able to create their own food security.
“We could still go out and hunt and fish,” she said, adding that they also picked wild leeks and fiddleheads.
“We were shipping them within the community here because people couldn’t get to the grocery store,” said Morrow, who also chairs the Dietitians of Canada Indigenous Nutrition Knowledge Information Network.
Programs that re-establish traditional foods within Indigenous communities are one way of fighting food insecurity, Banerji said. Other examples of success stories include community greenhouses and community freezers.
Banerji and her co-authors are calling for more government support for these types of initiatives, as well as school-based nutrition programs in all Indigenous communities to ensure kids get at least one healthy meal a day.
“Indigenous Peoples must have access to healthy and affordable food and our government is taking the steps necessary to close long-standing socioeconomic gaps,” said an emailed response from Zeus Eden, press secretary to Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu, on Thursday.
“We know that affordability is a top concern for all Canadians, especially those in remote, rural and Indigenous communities who face a higher cost of living,” Eden said.
He pointed to recently announced funding of $120 million for 24 regional Indigenous governments “to further support traditional hunting, harvesting, and food sharing activities,” as well as income assistance of “approximately $300 per month to address urgent financial needs” for more than 100,000 people in First Nations communities.
The federal government is also working on developing a national school food policy “over the next few years,” the statement said.
“We will continue to work with all levels of government and across departments to address food insecurity, reduce poverty, and promote economic reconciliation,” it said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.
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