Press release: Global Healthcare Information Network CIC enters into Official Relations with the World Health Organization (7)

25 February, 2022

Dear Julie and all,

Thank you for your important questions:

"Neil - in what ways do you think the new relationship might help HIFA work towards the HIFA vision? (A world where every person will have access to the healthcare information they need to protect their own health and the health of those for whom they are responsible.)"

The importance of WHO for the progressive realisation of universal access to reliable healthcare information and protection from misinformation cannot be overstated. We have collaborated with WHO since the launch of HIFA in 2006 (and indeed before: the need for HIFA became apparent as the result of a paper commissioned by WHO and published in The Lancet in 2004 [1]. All of HIFA's activities are substantially strengthened by our collaboration with WHO: the HIFA Steering Group includes three WHO staff members (observer status) and two former WHO staff members [2]. WHO staff also contribute to many of our project working groups. HIFA-French, HIFA-Portuguese and HIFA-Spanish are all formal collaborations with WHO and ould not exist without them. We have had several HIA projects sponsored by WHO, icluding the current projects on Maintaining essential health services during COVID-19 [3] and Learning for quality health services [4]. Many more of our projects benefit from WHO staff inputs.

As described in the curent WHO General Programme of Work [5, paragraph 92]: 'WHO's quintessential function is to ensure access to authoritative and strategic information on matters that affect peoples' health." HIFA's central purpose is likewise to ensure the availability and use of reliable information for health. This common purpose provides the foundation for our past and future collaboration.

As part of our successful application to become a non-state actor in official relations with WHO, Global Healthcare Information Network CIC (the nonprofit that administers HIFA) submitted a 3-year collaboration plan 2022-2024. In summary, GHI-net commits to help inform WHO's work to further understand and address the healthcare information needs of the public, health workers and policymakers; and to support the uptake of WHO‚s products, information and public health messages as an enabler for Universal Health Coverage and the relevant Sustainable Development Goals. The plan also supports WHO's efforts towards fulfilling its strategic oobjectives on multilingualism, in line with relevant UN and World Health Assembly Resolutions.

The plan for collaboration aims to contribute to the outcome targets in WHO General Programme of Work for the period 2019-2023, across WHO's four strategic priority areas:

Strategic priority 1: Achieving universal health coverage

Strategic priority 2: One billion more people better protected from health emergencies

Strategic priority 3: One billion more people enjoying better health and well-being

Strategic priority 4: More effective and efficient WHO providing better support to countries

All of the activities in the plan are also designed to accelerate progress on achieving universal access reliable healthcare information.

Our challenge now is to operationalise this collaboration plan and we look forward to take this forward with our WHO Designated Technical Officer (Isabelle Wachsmuth) and other WHO colleagues. In parallel we need to operationalise the complementary HIFA Strategy 2022-2024 that was published in October 2021. [6]

We are in an unprecedented position to take this forward and deliver on these plans. Never before has everyone been so aware of the need for reliable healthcare information, and yet so vulnerable to misinformation. Calls are growing for increased collective action, and this is reflected in the first strategic shift for the HIFA Strategy 2022-2024: 'Convene key stakeholders to accelerate progress towardsuniversal access to reliable healthcare information'. At our last HIFA steering group meeting on 3 February 2022, there was wide support for the eventual development of a high-level Global action plan for universal access to reliable healthcare information.

You also ask: "How can the HIFA membership and HIFA supporting organisations also play a part in achieving this vision?"

HIFA is first and foremost a platform to exchange experience and expertise around how to improve the availability and use of reliable healthcare information. HIFA would not exist without our members. We have more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, ineracting 24/7 in four languages. Every message shared on HIFA helps to build our collective understanding and solidarity, and I encourage everyone to contribute as well as read the messages. And please don't hesitate to forward messages and encourage others to join! In addition, about 400 members also generously volunteer their time and expertise to a wide range of activities: country representatives, project working groups, social media working group, fundraising working group, admin support, steering groups... (Half an hour ago Ben Nicholls, our new social media coordinator, sent a message to HIFA to invite volumteers to join the group, and I encourage all members to consider volunteering for this and other positions.)

HIFA supporting organisations are health and development organisations that have officially declared their support for the HIFA vision [7]. There are now 434 SOs worldwide. Some SOs provide technical support, and about 10% of them provide a financial contribution each year. Our challenge for 2022 is to provide more opportunities for our SOs to support HIFA. Currently the HIFA steering group is planning a webinar for all SOs and we shall have more on this soon.

***All of the above require funding and this is our biggest immediate challenge*** Our operational plan for 2022 has been conservatively costed at £140,000 pounds sterling. We currently only have a fraction of that amount, and most is restricted to specific projects. Our fundraising working group would welcome new members with relevant experience. Contact

Thanks again Julie for your very important questions. Each of us has an important role to play. As WHO stated at the launch of HIFA in 2006: “Healthcare Information For All is an ambitious goal but it can be achieved if all stakeholders work together.”

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where every person has access to reliable healthcare information and is protected from misinformation - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is global coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. HIFA brings stakeholders together to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information.

Twitter: @hifa_org

[1] 2004. Godlee F, Pakenham-Walsh N, Ncayiyana D, Cohen B, Packer A. Can we achieve health information for all by 2015? The Lancet 2004;364(9430):295-300