Japan Becomes First Official Donor of Pan-American Highway for Digital Health Initiative

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Japan Strengthens IDB and Paho’s Initiative on Pandemic Readiness and Continuity of Care

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic, March 10, 2024 — The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Japan have joined forces to enhance digital health services in Latin America and the Caribbean through a $5 million contribution from Japan. This marks the first donation to the Pan-American Highway for Digital Health Initiative, led by the IDB, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and countries from the region.

The Pan-American Highway for Digital Health is focused on pandemic readiness and the continuity of healthcare building on the advances made further to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the digitization of clinical data, it promotes the interoperability and exchange of health information, allowing patients to access and share vital details such as vaccination status, allergies, diagnosis, or prescriptions whenever and wherever required. This fosters quality healthcare services by enabling health teams to make informed decisions regarding a patient’s health, consider their medical history, and optimize regional resources.

Additionally, this data can assist governments in making better decisions about the health of their population. Furthermore, the Pan-American Highway for Digital Health supports countries in joining the WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network, which allows for the secure verification of health information.

"The Pan-American Highway for Digital Health will allow patients to access quality healthcare services regardless of their location, whether in a new city, province, or country. Japan's status as the first official donor of this initiative will enable us to enhance public health and continuity of care in the region by facilitating reliable exchange of health information,” said IDB President Ilan Goldfajn.

“Japan has established the Japan Special Fund (JSF) in the IDB, which has made a wide range of contributions over a long time to infrastructure, disaster risk management, and public health. This specific contribution will also be made through the JSF. Through this initiative, Japan anticipates that the promotion of data sharing through digital technologies will achieve seamless data flows across borders, and as such help to overcome various challenges including on coordination in the region, thus delivering improved development outcomes. This is the epitome of bringing various development priorities into one project, including regional connectivity, digital innovation, and public health,” said the Deputy Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance of the government of Japan, Mr. Daiho Fujii.

Digital health is a key priority of the G20 Agenda, currently led by Brazil. The Pan-American Highway for Digital Health supports the convergence and acceleration of country priorities at the regional level.

Together, the IDB and PAHO are collaborating with more than 20 countries to facilitate digital transformation, enhancing digital health foundations, including governance, universal connectivity, infrastructure, services, and applications for health and improved human capital. One recent example is the RELACIS 4.0 regional meeting and connectathon held in November 2023 in São Paulo, Brazil.

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, remarked: "As we embark on a renewed digital transformation agenda for the Americas, the collaboration between PAHO and the IDB is essential to ensure cross-border interoperability. This will guarantee that every individual has access to the healthcare they need, where and when they need it, and that health systems are equipped with the necessary information to take effective actions. This initiative is more than a partnership or a regional effort; it is a foundational element for a healthier future for everyone.” 

More information

Video on Pan-American Highway for Digital Health Initiative

Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, Pan-American Health Organization Director, and Ilan Goldfajn, Inter-American Development Bank President, explain what regional healthcare could look in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research projects and provides policy advice, technical assistance, and training to public- and private-sector clients throughout the region. Take our virtual tour.

About PAHO 

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902, it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American system. www.paho.org