18 January 2021, Geneva, Switzerland – The Stop TB Partnership launched today the Digital Health Technology Hub (DHT Hub), a unifying virtual platform that brings together the organization’s expertise and work in the digital health technology space to support the achievement of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (UNHLM on TB) commitments and targets.
Digital health technologies present a pivotal opportunity to modernize healthcare systems by empowering underserved communities and people affected by TB, improving access to quality healthcare, increasing programmatic efficiencies, enhancing healthcare professionals' work, and augmenting healthcare data management to enable real-time decision-making.
The Stop TB Partnership’s DHT Hub will initially focus on the following key areas:
- Build and expand the evidence, information, and experience of the appropriate use of digital health technologies, especially, but not limited to TB response;
- Source and identify, accelerate the roll-out, and catalyze the integrated platform of various digital health technologies for TB and across diseases;
- Catalyze the accelerated development and roll-out of promising digital health technologies for TB and across diseases; and
- Create a space for our partners from country programs, implementing partners, civil society and communities to understand about evidence-based digital health technologies for the TB response and provide technical support to implement and scale-up these solutions.
“Almost every day, I learn from our in-country partners about how critical digital health technologies are and have been to ensure people affected by TB are receiving the proper care and treatment they deserve and need during lockdowns and with healthcare facilities being at their breaking point due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am excited that we have set-up the DHT Hub to strengthen our current and future work in the digital health technologies space, and I am confident it will serve as another stronghold in our fight to end TB by 2030,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership.
Over the past seven years, the Stop TB Partnership, together with its various public and private sector partners, has been at the forefront of advocating for, sourcing, evaluating, introducing, and scaling-up digital health technologies:
- TB REACH has been at the forefront of evaluating and implementing emerging digital health technologies, including computer-aided detection of TB in chest x-rays, digital adherence technologies for differentiated TB care, drones for delivering TB medicines, and handheld x-ray devices. This work continues to inform international guidelines on the use of digital technology in TB, including the World Health Organization’s guideline on artificial intelligence for TB screening as well as the TDR (the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease), research toolkit for digital technologies and TB.
- Re-imagining TB Care initiative focuses on supporting the modernization of healthcare systems in TB affected countries by transforming when, where, and how TB affected communities and people access affordable, quality, and people-centered care by leveraging promising digital health technologies for TB and across diseases.
- Accelerator for Impact (a4i) platform (with Bamboo Capital Partners and the HealthAccessLeap (HEAL) fund), provides flexible capital and technical support to small and medium-enterprises, particularly from TB affected countries, developing digital health technologies for TB and across diseases.
- Country & Community Support for Impact (CCS4I) team co-developed OneImpact (with Dure Technologies and community and civil society partners) the community-led digital platform and application, to support community-led monitoring of the TB response.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stop TB Partnership has also been working closely with its in-country and global partners to optimize the introduction and scale-up of digital health technologies to mitigate interruptions in TB services caused by the global crisis.
“The widespread understanding and roll-out of digital health technologies are not easy nor a well-tread path. The way forward is fraught with many obstacles, such as a premature regulatory environment, poor digital literacy, lack of the appropriate information and communication infrastructure, data governance concerns, to name a few. We believe the DHT Hub, by harnessing our knowledge and expertise in the digital health technologies space, will serve as the foundation for overcoming these challenges and propel the modernization of TB care,” said Dr. Suvanand Sahu, Deputy Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership.
“We must seize every opportunity that technology presents to empower people affected by TB and to strengthen the community and health systems, driving the response. These tools can help save lives, so we have no choice but to leverage them and continue to innovate to reach and support every person affected by TB. We have already committed to innovating the TB response and now we have the tools and the imagination to make it a reality, so let’s do it,” said Maxime Lunga, National Secretary, Club des Amis Damien, DR Congo and OneImpact implementer.