IGF 2022 WS #517 New data on fairer access to health using the Internet

Friday, 2nd December, 2022 (12:00 UTC) - Friday, 2nd December, 2022 (13:00 UTC)
Banquet Hall B

Organizer 1: Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 2: Intergovernmental Organization, African Group
Organizer 3: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Mark Datysgeld, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Zina Hany, Intergovernmental Organization, African Group
Speaker 3: Ron Andruff, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Birds of a Feather - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)
  • What are the key areas in which the Internet Governance community can contribute to the furthering of fairer access to health using the Internet?
  • How can health data be leveraged in an ethical manner to generate human-centric solutions that result in greater well-being to people around the world?
  • What are the next steps for fora such as the IGF and its different initiatives to take in order to help promote fairer access to health using the Internet?

Image of medicines

Connection with previous Messages: This proposal speaks directly to one of the concerns raised in 2021’s message, in the form of: “Mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that the rights-limiting measures put in place to cope with public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic are not prolonged indefinitely”. This statement resonates strongly with the core values driving this proposal, in that for strong policies to be formed around health, there is need for extensive research and community consultation, so that mechanisms are set up in ways that effectively address real-world issues.



Targets: The guiding principle for our actions has been Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, in particular 3.8: “Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”. We are also attentive of Goal 10: “Reduce inequality within and among countries”, particularly 10.3: “Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard”, seeing as the ones most affected by the lack of access to medicines are the poor, who cannot afford treatment or have to resort to unsafe black markets. Finally, 17.7 speaks to the specific theme of this session and its intent of advancing stakeholder cooperation: “Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships Data, monitoring and accountability”.

Emerging as a topic of high interest in recent years, access to health using the Internet comes in many forms, be it telemedicine, purchase of medicines online, or aggregation and diffusion of health data, among others. For a theme that carries life and death implications, this area has received only moderate attention from the global Internet Governance community, with most efforts revolving around governments and other public actors already involved in the health space.

Still, new literature has been produced and data has been collected and studied, with opportunities for collective action and research presenting themselves. The need for an open, data-centric community conversation is clear, leading to the proposal of this Birds-of-a-Feather session, aimed at the exchange of ideas between those interested in promoting fairer access to health using the Internet, including those involved in any of the many themes surrounding that goal, such as cybersecurity, jurisdiction, and global trade.

A brand-new piece of research will serve as a backdrop to the discussion carried out during the session. Entitled “Health Online Indicators LAC: Access to safe and affordable health solutions using the Internet”, this study sought, between 2021 and 2022, to establish a methodology for the evaluation of health using the Internet across most of Latin America. More broadly, it presents a methodology that can be used in different regions of the world to make the same measurements and help policymakers and activists reach informed conclusions as to what advances could be made on this theme.

Expected Outcomes

IGF 2022 will take place during the later stages of the production of “Health Online Indicators LAC: Access to safe and affordable health solutions using the Internet”, meaning that any contributions that result from this session have the potential of being integrated in the final open-access output of the project. The organizers hope to hear perspectives from various stakeholders on the challenges faced in their own regions, with the goal of strengthening the overall methodology and informing future efforts.

Hybrid Format: the Birds-of-a-Feather format also allows for freer, less structured group interactions. This benefits the remote participants greatly, as they can interact synchronously with the session, without the need to wait for Q&A sessions or similar.

Online Participation

IGF Official Tool and social networks

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The intersection between health and Internet Governance is underappreciated, and more work needs to be done on bringing these areas closer together.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Health is the most fundamental aspect of human existence, and Internet Governance actors need to be mindful of their role in enabling people to have access to it.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

The session focused on the draft report entitled "Health Online Indicators LAC ‘22-‘23: Data on access to health solutions using the Internet", produced by Governance Primer with funding from LACNIC, presenting its findings to a global audience in order to seek further input and evaluate what next steps should be pursued prior to publication of the document.

Mark W. Datysgeld (Governance Primer) and Ron Andruff (ONR Consulting) had an open debate with the audience in relation to the contents of the report, in a session that focused less on exposition and more on exchange of ideas.

The first point that was brought up is how, in spite of the global COVID-19 pandemic, some countries in LAC still lacked proper regulations around telemedicine, a concerning issue that reduces the safety both of practitioners and patients.

It was next noted that the ability to purchase medicines using the Internet is also limited and sometimes outright banned in some LAC countries. This is at times circumvented with the use of delivery apps, which leaves open questions such as liability and medicine safety.

The subject of medicine importation was debated, with an understanding that this practice is not even seen as a matter of discussion in many jurisdictions, when in fact the Internet could be leveraged to increase access and reduce inequalities in relation to medicines.

Finally, a dependency map was presented showing the potential routes of action to generate impact on processes where health and Internet Governance intersect, pointing out that there could be much more action than there currently is.

In discussion with the audience, it was brought up that such a study would be useful to the African region, seeing as, much like LAC, it is also constituted of a patchwork of legislations that do not harmonize with each other.

It was then discussed that the IGF itself is a good avenue for such debates to take place, considering its open-ended nature and multistakeholder nature, but different fora need to be sought for the theme to be socialized and increase in awareness.

The final report will be published in 2023, reflecting the discussions from this session.