EIH/OPS Director’s visit to BIREME prioritizes strategies for digital transformation in health

Transformación Digital en el SUS

São Paulo, May 29, 2023. Dr. Sebastián García Saisó, director of the Evidence and Intelligence for Health Action Department of the Pan American Health Organization (EIH/PAHO), and Mr. Marcelo D’Agostino, head of the Information Systems and Digital Health unit (IS/EIH/PAHO) were in São Paulo and Brasília between March 27th and 30th to contribute to discussions about strengthening health information systems in Brazil and their digital transformation. Among the main outcomes of the mission is the development of a set of recommendations for short- and medium-term actions to support digital transformation in health information in the country, according to the guidelines of the PAHO technical document “Eight Guiding Principles for Digital Transformation of the Health Sector.”

At BIREME, a meeting was conducted with the entire team to present the Organization’s new structure and strategic vision, informing details about the functioning of the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Health Action; and about the goal that seeks to strengthen the interprogrammatic agenda between Headquarters and the Center. A proposal of a specific strategic plan for BIREME was also presented and discussed, considering the challenges and actions necessary to strengthen its presence and relevance as a specialized center of evidence for health impact in the Region of the Americas.

Dr. Saisó contributed to the commemorative webinar “VHL 25 Years: achievements, challenges and opportunities“, organized by BIREME, with the lecture “The power of science, evidence and digital transformation to improve the health of all”. In his speech, Dr. Saisó highlighted the relevance of the VHL Network in establishing an agenda for expanding access to scientific information in health throughout its history; the importance of it’s strengthening for a future with greater link to the challenges faced by the countries; and the role of evidence for decision-making in health and for the digital transformation that is expected to be achieved.

With the engineering and innovation teams from the University of São Paulo (USP), Sebastián García Saisó, Marcelo D’Agostino and João Paulo Souza, advanced a proposal for cooperation to develop solutions focused on the interoperability of health information systems in Brazil. As a follow-up, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between PAHO and USP is expected to be signed, providing training activities, the development of technical/technological products, and the exchange of experiences on digital transformation processes.

In Brasilia, Sebastián García Saisó, Marcelo D’Agostino, and João Paulo Souza carried out a mission to organize, together with the new Information and Digital Health Secretariat (SEIDIGI) from the Ministry of Health, the Symposium “Digital Transformation in SUS“, held on March 28 at PAHO’s headquarters. Talking on the panel were the Minister of Health Nísia Trindade, the secretary of SEIDIGI Ana Haddad, the representative of PAHO and WHO in Brazil Dr. Socorro Gross, and Dr. Saisó. The event highlighted the importance of ensuring that new technologies meet the goals of digital inclusion and reducing health inequalities. For this, according to Dr. Saisó, “towards the current technological transformation, the maturing of Brazil’s health information systems must consider human rights at the center of the national digital health agenda”.

On the occasion, Mr. Marcelo D’Agostino led an analysis of the maturity of health information systems, involving different teams from the Ministry of Health that are part of SEIDIGI: the Department of Digital Health and Innovation, the Department of Information for the Unified Health System (Datasus), and the Department of Evaluation and Dissemination of Strategic Health Information. The group also had the opportunity to identify priority areas for SEIDIGI, which may be part of future technical cooperation actions between the parties.

A meeting with the Department of Science and Technology (Decit) was also held in Brasilia, to discuss the possibility of extending The Director of EIH and the Director of BIREME had a strategic meeting with Ambassador Alexandre Ghisleni, Special Advisor for International Affairs of the Ministry of Health of Brazil, and team, together with the Secretary Ana Estela Haddad, to advance in the processes related to the agreement Headquarters of BIREME in Brazil.

In addition to the specific themes of the mission, meetings were held with PAHO Brazil advisors to define technical cooperation projects in the themes of data analysis and visualization, as well as information analysis and measurement of health inequities, aspects that were prioritized by the different areas of the Ministry and in the technical cooperation granted.

According to João Paulo Souza, the advances and outcomes of this mission boost BIREME to meet the guiding principles of digital transformation in the Health Sector. “Thus, we will be able to support countries with development projects, production of digital goods and use of artificial intelligence that contain, in addition to the goals of interoperability of information systems and security, also universal connectivity in the health sector, digital inclusion sensitive to the most vulnerable; and human rights as cross-cutting aspects to other actions.”

Link of interest
Eight Guiding Principles of Digital Transformation of the Health Sector. A Call to Pan American Action