Yet another manifestation of the Military BioTech Complex I was telling you about, bridging Silicon Valley, Davos and China.
Their words, my research:
Immunization: an entry point for digital identity
With World Health Day around the corner on April 7th, we’d like to bring attention to the intersection of global health and digital identity, and specifically the opportunity for immunization rates to scale digital identity amongst the most hard-to-reach children.
Globally, an estimated 95% of children receive at least one dose of some vaccine. This number is staggering — no other public health intervention reaches more children and impacts more families.
Yet, despite this high initial contact rate, only 37% of children in the world’s poorest countries are fully immunized, meaning that they receive their full course of recommended vaccines. Ultimately, many children are left without comprehensive protection and vulnerable to many vaccine-preventable diseases.
There are several reasons for low coverage rates, including the low quality of population data and reliance on outdated systems to track immunizations, but one critical challenge is the continued use of paper-based systems to record the doses that have been administered and indicate when a child needs to return for boosters. Unfortunately, the paper records kept within a clinic are often difficult to analyze and the immunization cards given to families are prone to loss and inaccuracies. Without a persistent, portable record that can be uniquely linked to the child, it’s often difficult to ascertain the care a child needs.
In November, Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, wrote a piece for Nature that emphasized the pressing need to move to digital systems — specifically those to identify and track those currently missing out — to achieve 100% immunization coverage.
One of the biggest needs is for affordable, secure digital identification systems that can store a child’s medical history, and that can be accessed even in places without reliable electricity. That might seem a tall order, but it is both achievable and necessary.
This message was reinforced at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where Gavi announced digital identity as the focus for its 2018 INFUSE program. INFUSE — Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunization — aims to identify and support innovative solutions that have the potential to modernize global health and immunization delivery. This year, Gavi is focusing its efforts on identifying opportunities for digital identity technologies to help facilitate better targeting, follow-up, and immunization service delivery for the world’s most vulnerable children.
Immunization poses a huge opportunity to scale digital identity — in many developing countries, immunization coverage greatly exceeds birth registration rates. According to best available estimates, upwards of 95% of children globally receive at least one dose of one vaccine (with 86% of children globally receiving the full three doses recommended of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, which is commonly used to measure immunization coverage).
When a child receives her first vaccine, she receives a paper child health card. In many developing countries, the most common form of identification is not a birth certificate, but this card. The near ubiquity of these documents presents an enormous opportunity.
Moving from easily lost or damaged paper health cards to an accessible digital form would reduce the burden associated with tracking a child’s vaccines and eliminate redundant or unnecessary paperwork. Digital child health cards can improve coverage rates and vaccine compliance by prompting parents to bring their children in for necessary subsequent doses. For health workers, digital identity technology validates a child’s past vaccines and may streamline analytics and outreach, without adding significant complexity to a health worker’s workflow. And for Gavi and its international partners, digital ID technology provides a basis for a system of verifiable proofs and accurate aggregate data that interoperates with other identity management systems, negating the need for each organization to independently identify beneficiaries.
And because immunization is conducted in infancy, providing children with a digital child health card would give them a unique, portable digital identity early in life. And as children grow, their digital child health card can be used to access secondary services, such as primary school, or ease the process of obtaining alternative credentials. Effectively the child health card becomes the first step in establishing a legal, broadly recognized identity.
In turn, having a persistent and portable health record uniquely tied to the child will help to increase full immunization coverage rates by prompting follow-up and better targeting the most hard to reach children.
In order to enable digital identity at scale, we will need to identify and leverage many entry points. Immunization service delivery presents a tremendous opportunity to provide children with a durable, portable and secure digital identity early in life, enabling access to a wider range of social services, while also improving access to the health interventions all children need and deserve.
We’re proud to partner with Gavi and excited to see the innovations proposed as part of the INFUSE Challenge. To all innovators: the deadline to apply for the program is April 10th, so please get those applications in!
INFUSE 2018 is calling for proven digital technology innovations — adapted to low-resource environments in developing countries — to help identify and register children, especially girls, who are at risk of missing out on life-saving vaccines.
Launched at Davos in 2016, Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunisation (INFUSE) helps improve vaccine delivery systems by connecting high-impact, proven innovations with the countries that need them most.GAVI
It then “infuses” them with capital and expertise to help take them to scale.
“Since 2016, ID2020 has advocated for ethical, privacy-protecting approaches to digital ID.
For the one in seven people globally who lacks a means to prove their identity, digital ID offers access to vital social services and enables them to exercise their rights as citizens and voters and participate in the modern economy. But doing digital ID right means protecting civil liberties and putting control over personal data back where it belongs…in the hands of the individual.
Every day, we rely on a variety of forms of identification to go about our lives: our driver’s license, passport, work badge and building access cards, debit and credit cards, transit passes, and more.
But technology is evolving at a blinding pace and many of the transactions that require identification are today being conducted digitally. From e-passports to digital wallets, online banking to social media accounts, these new forms of digital ID allow us to travel, conduct business, access financial and health records, stay connected, and much more.
While the move to digital ID has had many positive effects, it has been accompanied by countless challenges and setbacks, including large-scale data breaches affecting millions of people. Most of the current tools are archaic, insecure, lack appropriate privacy protections and commoditize our data. But that’s about to change and ID2020 is leading the charge.
We are businesses, nonprofits, governments and individuals…working in collaboration to ensure that the future of digital identity is, indeed, #goodID.” – ID2020.org
Gavi and Zenysis Technologies to bring data and artificial intelligence to immunisation programmes
The partnership supported by Asia’s largest internet services company Tencent will help developing countries reach more children with life-saving vaccines
Geneva, 12 March 2019 – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Zenysis Technologies, a Silicon Valley startup, have established a new strategic partnership that will help low-income countries harness the power of big data and artificial intelligence to improve childhood vaccination programs around the world.
Zenysis Technologies was identified by Gavi, through the INFUSE (Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunisation) yearly call for innovation. INFUSE aims to identify proven solutions which, when brought to scale, have the greatest potential to modernise global health and immunisation delivery.
What the team at Zenysis has built and accomplished to date is in a class of its own.
David Wallerstein, Tencent’s Chief Exploration Officer
A two-year partnership will provide countries with the Zenysis’ software platform, analytical training and IT skills development. Countries will use the platform’s capabilities to integrate data from their fragmented information systems and help decision-makers see where children are not receiving vaccines. Advanced analytics will then help countries decide how to target their limited resources for maximum impact.
“Weak immunisation data leads to poor planning, often meaning that children, whether they live in urban slums or remote rural outposts, miss out on lifesaving vaccines. Digital transformation of immunisation data and analytics is key to making sure that all children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley. “Our partnership with Zenysis has the potential to increase efficiency and reduce costs for developing countries but, most importantly, it could save lives.”
Since its inception three years ago, Zenysis has expanded into ten countries that now use its software to improve health programs serving over one billion people. The company’s software has been used to optimise nationwide vaccination campaigns allowing for reinvestment in other lifesaving health programs.
“Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has helped over 70 countries vaccinate more than 700 million children in low income countries,” said Zenysis CEO, Jonathan Stambolis. “However, weak and fragmented information systems at the country level mean that millions of the world’s most vulnerable children have been left behind. We have assembled one of the strongest software engineering teams in Silicon Valley to build the software countries need to address this urgent global health challenge and our partnership with Gavi and Tencent will ensure that technology benefits the countries that need it most.”
We have assembled one of the strongest software engineering teams in Silicon Valley to build the software countries need to address this urgent global health challenge…
Jonathan Stambolis, Zenysis CEO
The company expects to reach at least fifteen more countries in 2019. This will include Pakistan, where Zenysis will be working with government authorities and Gavi to improve vaccination coverage and equity as well as to accelerate the country’s progress towards a polio-free future. The project has the backing of one of Zenysis’ investors, internet services giant Tencent Holdings, Asia’s largest company. Tencent investment of US$ 4.5 million will be matched by the Gavi Matching Fund.
“We are very excited about the potential for artificial intelligence to transform child health on a global scale”, said David Wallerstein, Tencent’s Chief Exploration Officer. “I look at hundreds of the fastest-growing startups every year. What the team at Zenysis has built and accomplished to date is in a class of its own. The company’s software will help governments become more effective and targeted at every step of the vaccination challenge, and move with the urgency and speed required to realise Gavi’s vision of a world free of vaccine-preventable illnesses”.
The official Memorandum of Understanding establishing this landmark partnership between Gavi and Zenysis Technologies was signed by Gavi’s CEO Dr Seth Berkley and the Zenysis CEO Jonathan Stambolis in Abu Dhabi during the Gavi Mid-Term Review high-level conference.
I think we’re done here.
But I’ll update this if anything worth noting comes along.
To be continued?
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