May 21, 2019

Geneva, Switzerland, May 21 – Ministers of health and leaders from the global digital health sector gathered in Geneva for the Universal Health Coverage 2030: Creating a Global Digital Health Dynamic to Shape the 21st Century Economy and Society on the sidelines of the 72nd World Health Assembly. Hosted by the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute Geneva, Global He@lth 2030 Innovation Task Force, the Novartis Foundation, and PATH, the event brought together leaders from governments, the private sector, and civil society to discuss how digital technologies are changing health care worldwide, and the impact digital health transformation is having on Universal Health Coverage and economic development.

The event featured several panels of global health and technology thinkers and practitioners to explore how digital health integrates into health systems, supported by frameworks of interoperability standards, legislation, and regulatory guidance. Topics included:

  • How digital and AI solutions can be scaled for Universal Health Coverage in Africa and Small Island Developing States
  • Making connections between global digital health and Universal Health Coverage
  • Next Steps for global digital health and next generation Universal Health Coverage 2030
  • Supporting the SDG3 Global Action Plan Accelerators to support innovation in global digital health

“Strategies to achieve the ambitious goal of Universal Health Coverage must take into account the extraordinary opportunity for digital technology to transform how we approach both health and care,” said Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation. “Digital health promises to not only reimagine how we deliver care, but also how we address the underlying determinants that impact health.” Each panel emphasized the importance of shared values and dialogue at the global level to ensure digital transformation is based on equity, inclusivity, and partnership between government, business, and civil society.

In his remarks at the event, Steve Davis, CEO of PATH, announced the formation of the Center of Digital and Data Excellence at PATH. The new Center brings together expertise in digital health and data from around the organization to promote the integration of digital technologies and data best practices across PATH’s programs. “Through the Center of Digital and Data Excellence, we will build stronger ties between digital and data to provide immediate, powerful way to increase the cost-efficiency and quality of health services—while simultaneously long-standing inequities in health care,” said Mr. Davis.

PATH has named Dykki Settle as its chief digital officer to oversee the Center of Digital and Data Excellence. “We believe deeply in the power of digital health and data to accelerate progress towards health equity and Universal Health Coverage,” said Mr. Settle. “Through the Center of Digital and Data Excellence, we can build stronger ties between digital and data, and begin to address the looming challenges of data security, innovation scale-up, and long-term sustainability.”

Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation, announced that the foundation will co-chair with Microsoft a new Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital and AI in Health. “AI promises to transform health systems from reactive to predictive, preventative, and high performing,” said Dr. Aerts. “This new working group aims to ensure AI delivers more than just hype. We will do this by reviewing and reporting on the growing tide of success stories – as well as the failures – of AI in global health, and by delivering recommendations for how AI can drive marked improvements in the accuracy, productivity and workflow of health systems or fill gaps in healthcare.”

Denis Gilhooly, founder and CEO of the Global He@lth 2030 Innovation Task Force, said: “This event is evidence of the essential need for multi-stakeholder partnership on digital health between business, government, NGOs and the multilateral system if next generation UHC 2030 is to become a reality.” He also drew the connection between the evening’s discussion and the key global conversations on the digital economy and society taking place in 2019. Digital technology is emerging as a top priority this year for the G20 Osaka Meetings in June and the first United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in September.

About the Global He@lth 2030 Innovation Task Force

The Global He@lth 2030 Innovation Task was established at the UN General Assembly in 2015 as the successor to the UN Digital He@lth Initiative in the Sustainable Development era.  It is a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership comprising leading global thinkers and actors in the fast converging fields of digital health and technology.  The Task Force is dedicated to supporting next generation UHC 2030 and the health-related SDGs through catalytic cooperation and collaboration in navigating the complex ecosystem for creating a global digital health and development dynamic.   

About the Novartis Foundation

The Novartis Foundation is a philanthropic organization that strives to have sustainable impact on the health of low-income communities through a combination of programmatic work, health outcomes research, and its translation into policy to tackle global health challenges. We work with local and global partners to catalyze sustainable healthcare models to improve access and health outcomes, and to accelerate efforts to eliminate leprosy by focusing on interventions that aim to interrupt transmission. Everything we do is grounded in evidence and innovation. Our programs have reached 30 million people over the past four years. For more information, visit:

About PATH

PATH is a global organization that works to accelerate health equity by bringing together public institutions, businesses, social enterprises, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. With expertise in science, health, economics, technology, advocacy, and dozens of other specialties, PATH develops and scales solutions—including vaccines, drugs, devices, diagnostics, and innovative approaches to strengthening health systems worldwide. For more information, visit:

Media Contacts:

Kate Davidson | PATH | [email protected]

Carolyn Canham | Novartis Foundation | [email protected]

Martha Jennings | Global He@lth 2030 Innovation Task Force | [email protected]