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Introducing DIGIT Health Platform
Help countries achieve Health SDGs by building digital public goods that strengthen public health.
The DIGIT Health platform is being built as an open source Digital Public Good to expand capabilities in public health. It is being designed to work across countries at varying levels of capacity and complexity.
The focus is to help countries reduce “diseases of poverty.” The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that such diseases “account for 45% of the disease burden in the poorest countries” and stem from poor nutrition and sanitation, absence of health education, and indoor air pollution. We want to help countries reduce this by building digital tools on top of eGov’s open-source platform - the Digital Infrastructure for Governance, Impact & Transformation (DIGIT) - to enable and manage health campaigns, and disease surveillance.
As platform adoption increases over time, it will continue to generate more real-time and authoritative data in the public health space, besides ingesting data from other sources. The platform will become a “shared source of truth” that all stakeholders can use to align resources and decisions to achieve operational and financial efficiency. The platform will therefore progressively and greatly improve the ability of low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) to better manage the delivery of public health priorities.
Public health challenges are massive and complex. While many countries have limited capacity and resources to address such issues, the current approach to these challenges tends to strictly focus on delivering one specific outcome, driven by specific nodal agencies. Each programme ends up replicating the same set of efforts and outputs. For example, health campaigns are typically categorised as per the diseases they aim to address - malaria, polio, etc. Each programme involves a similar set of activities: planning, delivery and logistics, human resource management, monitoring and reporting. They suffer from low effectiveness due to the siloed and uncoordinated way in which they are funded, planned, executed, and monitored.
Current digital efforts do not take a “whole of system view” and do not solve the cost of coordination and duplication issues. Each program also develops its own systems (MIS, apps, dashboards). Such siloed, solution-centric approaches and tools create a new set of problems and inefficiencies for countries:
- Higher costs and time: This is incurred on creating or procuring and maintaining these systems, including the onboarding cost of the same actors in each programme.
- Data exists in multiple systems: They are not interoperable, leading to duplication, inconsistencies, poor adoption by on-ground workers, and sub-optimal decision-making.
- Limited reusability and innovation: Data and capabilities are intertwined and ‘locked,’ making it extremely hard for the wider ecosystem to innovate and build upon.
- Sub-scale: The tools are not able to scale for the national population and across programmes.
The DIGIT Health platform reimagines the public health space as a set of horizontal building blocks, such as shared registries, and services, accessible through well-defined open APIs, which can be leveraged by multiple countries and disease programmes. It will eliminate the above inefficiencies. Further, it will facilitate the independent evolution of each building block and participation by the health ecosystem, leading to faster innovation.
The DIGIT Health platform is being designed to enable delivery at scale, across various aspects of public health, and multiple country contexts. Using the platform approach, we will create an end-to-end flexible, open, configurable, and reusable platform to plan, manage and run any public health program such as health campaigns so there is detailed and timely monitoring and evaluation to review coverage, target achievement and identification of gaps for their distribution.
- Re-usable: Shared data registries and infrastructure
- Interoperable: Open API specifications
- Secure and scalable
- Multi-country support: Support for infrastructure isolation, as well as data isolation
- Multi-lingual: Support for multiple languages
DIGIT Health platform will:
- Allow ecosystem actors to use, contribute and evolve the platform collaboratively and sustainably.
- Give the option to ecosystems to either host it on their own infrastructure or use it from a hosted environment (hosted by a trusted party) for which a sustainable costing and financial model will be evolved.
The common services and shared data registries can be reused to assemble products that provide a unified and consistent experience for each set of actors. The programme-specific context such as roles, workflows, and notifications can be configured by the respective programs, enabling faster rollout and execution.
The APIs will allow data and functionality to be reused across multiple departments, effectively breaking silos across programs. Through APIs, meaningful data and services can also be made available to the various ecosystem stakeholders for innovation and interoperate with other systems like MOSIP, DHIS2, Sunbird RC, DIVOC, etc. that are focused on other parts of the public health delivery value chain, such as disease surveillance, supply chain, verifiable certificates, and health insurance.