Coronavirus (602) Report of Commonwealth Civil Society Policy Forum, 6 May 2020

15 May, 2020

I and several other HIFA members took part in the recent 2020 Commonwealth Civil Society Policy Forum on Wednesday 6 May 2020: 'Strengthening health systems using digital technologies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure universal health coverage', organised by the Commonwealth Health Professiona Alliance.

A report of the meeting is now available here:

Extracts below


Six hundred and sixty seven people registered to participate in the 2020 virtual CCSPF with 225 persons participating. Participants came from 56 countries and from every region of the Commonwealth and from non-Commonwealth countries.

The 2020 Commonwealth Civil Society Policy Forum was dedicated to the memory of Dr Mbololwa Mbololwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, Health Advisor at the Commonwealth Secretariat who recently passed away...

Commonwealth civil society note that digital technology is one of the seven 'accelerators' identified in the 2019 Stronger collaboration, better health: Global Action Plan for healthy lives and wellbeing for all report and that digital and diagnostic technologies are playing a leading role in the response to the pandemic.

Enhancing diagnostics and health monitoring particularly for vulnerable populations...

Enhancing health workforce data collection, analysis, and forward projections...

Enhancing health workforce education and training...

Enhancing distribution of information to the general population and the health workforce: Digital technology has enormous potential to provide accurate, comprehensive and quality information in a timely manner. This has been demonstrated particularly well during the COVID-19 pandemic with the development of mobile phone apps which can be effectively used in the future for the distribution of health alerts, vaccination and health appointment reminders. Digital technology could also be used to provide health professionals with current information about the use of medicines, the publication of new guidelines, and the availability new clinical procedures and


Enhancing access and improving equity in the provision of health care...

Potential challenges and risks in using digital technology in health care...

Concerns about privacy of data and security of data and overcoming a lack of trust and transparency in the use of data as well as concerns about inappropriate use of data e.g. for surveillance of individuals, groups, or the general population...

Overcoming barriers to access of digital health care solutions due to age and other considerations such as language and poor mobile penetration and internet access...


The CHPA recommends that the:

4.1 Commonwealth Health Ministers request the Commonwealth Secretariat, working with partners such as the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH), to conduct a study across all Commonwealth countries, to map the use of digital technologies in health service and medicines delivery; identifying digital technology resources already available and being used; document best practices; as well as identifying digital technology challenges and needs, and publish the outcome of the study as well as present the data gathered online through COVID-19 Digital Solutions Platform under development by the CWCDH.

4.2 Commonwealth Health Ministers mandate the Commonwealth Secretariat to work with individual Commonwealth Countries, at their request, to provide technical advice in the integration, acquisition and use of digital technologies into their health service delivery and the continuing professional development of their health workforce, specifically looking at innovative ways of using technology to support expanded roles for the existing health workforce in the current environment of health workforce shortages.

4.3 Commonwealth Heath Ministers, through the Commonwealth Secretariat, explore the opportunities for cross-Commonwealth collaboration in the use of digital technology in health care with a view to establishing a Commonwealth social and business coalition in digital technology, leveraging best practices, and including as appropriate public, social business and private entities.

4.4 Commonwealth Health Ministers, through the Commonwealth Secretariat and their Human Rights Unit, and in collaboration with Commonwealth Associations, take the lead in calling for the development of model regulation, policy and standards for the use of digital technology in health service delivery, including addressing privacy, security, equity, and respect for human rights concerns...

2020 Commonwealth Civil Society Policy Forum


- Ms Jill Iliffe, Executive Director, Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation

- The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth

- Dr Anne Gallaher AO, Director General, Commonwealth Foundation

- Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientific Officer, World Health Organisation

- Professor Vajira Dissanayake, Past President, Commonwealth Medical Association; Founder Commonwealth Digital Health Initiative

- Dr Ashley McKimm, Director of Partnership Development and Innovation, British Medical Journal

- Dr Osahon Enabulele, President, Commonwealth Medical Association

- Professor Kathleen McCourt, President, Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation

- Dr Amy Chan, Professional Development and Research Lead, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association

- Dr Stephen Allen, Secretary, Commonwealth Association for Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

- Dr Uday Bodhankar, Executive Director, Commonwealth Association for Health and Disability

- Dr Godfred Boahen, Board Member, Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work

- Mr Anton Ofield-Kerr, Chairperson, Commonwealth HIV and AIDS Action Group

- Professor Tony Nelson, Chairperson, Commonwealth Health Professions Alliance


Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: