History

In December 2015, the Sri Lanka Medical Association, nominated Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake to be its nominee for the President of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) [http://www.commonwelathdoctors.org] from 2016 to 2019. Prof. Dissanayake, with is background in genomics and biomedical informatics, propose the setting up of a Commonwealth Digital Health Network as the flagship project of his Presidency. He presented this to the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) at its meeting from 17 to 18 March 2016 and invited the CACH to convene in Colombo in October 2016 during the CMA’s Triennial Conference. Prof. Dissanayake presented his plans for the network to the Council of the CMA at its meeting on 13 October 2016 and it was accepted.

The Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) held its 24th Triennial Conference on the theme ‘Digital Health for Health and Wellbeing’ in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 14 to 16 October 2016 [http://www.cma2016.org]. This conference was preceded by the meeting of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) from 12 to 13 October 2016. The deliberations of the CACH and the deliberations during the 24th Triennial Conference of the CMA resulted in the ‘Colombo Declaration’. The declaration emphasized the importance of Digital Health. The Commitment was further strengthened during a visit of the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka to the Commonwealth Secretariat on 16 January 2017 [https://www.thecommonwealth-healthhub.net/cwidh/]. The CACH met again from 21 to 23 March 2017 in London, UK and approved the Commonwealth Policy brief on “Digital Systems for One Health Global – Health Security and Health Systems Strengthening in the Digital Era”. This policy brief was presented to the commonwealth health ministers at the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) on 21 May 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.

It was envisaged that a Commonwealth Digital Health Network be set up with a central hub based in London working in collaboration with regional hubs in Commonwealth nations. This commitment was reaffirmed at the 2nd Commonwealth Digital Health Conference held in Colombo from 10 to 12 October 2017 [http://cmadhc.org]. The Commonwealth Center for Digital Health (CWCDH) which would be formally launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in London on 20 April 2018 would serve as the central hub of the Commonwealth Digital Health Network.