Harnessing Data for Global Health: Insights from Publica Berlin Digital Transformation Festival

Tue, 11-06-2024 15:00:00


In a world increasingly characterized by global challenges such as pandemics and climate change, the intelligent use of data to safeguard health worldwide is of great importance. From AI-based approaches to the use of big data, data and innovative health applications are changing our ability to prepare for challenges on a global scale. The question that arises: Who cares about advancing the global interconnectedness of data and how can we ensure that digital transformation to address global challenges is done equitably, especially regarding African countries?

The panel session titled "Data Against Disasters: How big Data and AI can protect us from future health crises” brought together three panelists namely; GIZ CEO-Anna Sophie Herken, African Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources- Dr. Mary Mbole-Kariuki and Nina Bekele from Google to discuss the effective use of data to address health challenges. The auditorium had an audience from wide diversity including private sector, academia, development partners, research organizations, amongst others

The proceeding highlighted key areas of intervention;

Value for Data
1.    Concerted efforts should be made to ensure that available data across the sectors is utilized fully and sound information and knowledge products are generated that will inform policy, regulations and legislations to improve prevention, preparedness and response to pandemics

Africa Context Specific Approaches
1.    Focus on digital transformation, data integration and harmonization should be hinged to already existing African Union Strategies especially the Africa Union Digital Transformation Strategy - DTS (2020-2030) that focusses on harnessing digital technologies and innovations to transform African societies and the AU Data Policy Framework which emphasizes on consolidated data environments and harmonized digital data governance systems
I.    There is need to build technical capacities in African member states that include establishing and operationalizing data analytics hubs/consortia, whom will be tasked with undertaking advanced data analytics and providing user-friendly feedback for the use of African member states
II.    There is need for global interconnectedness of data systems to ensure data sharing, However, this will be made possible through robust infrastructure installed and operation in across the globe. The need to ensure that connectivity in Africa is strengthened is key
III.    There is need to enhance Digital Public infrastructure systems in Africa that will provide seamless data and information.

Public Private Partnerships
I.    Strengthen the collaboration between African Union and the German Development Cooperation and promote cooperation with the private sector institutions like google on the African continent to co-develop and use digital technologies that are tailored according to the local challenges
II.    Co-creation of priority activities and intervention is critical to ensure sustainability and promote ownership

Novel innovations
I.    Africa has begun affirmative action towards establishing Artificial intelligence hubs such as one recently launched at the University of Nairobi. Thus, the need to collaborate integrating big data and Artificial intelligence in academic curriculum 
II.    Translations by google in native languages to ensure wider access is commendable, thus the latest innovation by google on utilizing artificial intelligence to useful scientific findings should be tailored to also address policy actions  
In conclusion, a call to action was made to enhance joint partnerships and collaborations to ensure that data sharing, integration and harmonization is promoted for using data for disaster preparedness, response and prevention.

Photo: From left to right: Christine Mhundwa (Moderator); GIZ-CEO Anna Sophie Herken, Dr Mary Mbole-Kariuki (AU-IBAR) and Nina Bekele (Google) Photo Courtesy @GIZ