Tuberculosis (TB)

Global Task Force on digital health for TB

Digital health in TB care and control

Conference room with panel and participants of the First global consultation on the role of e/mHealth in TB and tobacco control.

The Global Task Force was established by the Global TB Programme of WHO (WHO/GTB) in March 2015 and includes experts in different fields of TB care and control, in information and communication technology (ICT), technical and financial partners, and representatives from countries on the forefront of the response to the TB epidemic.

The End TB Strategy approved by the World Health Assembly in 2014, as well as other WHA resolutions and efforts to promote the application by countries of ICT for health (“e/mHealth” or digital health) by WHO, underpin the functions and mandate of the Task Force. In carrying out its work the Task Force upholds the principles of patient-centred care, and ensures that interventions look beyond the immediate needs of the tuberculous process and also consider risks linked to co-morbidity (eg, diabetes, HIV), lifestyle (eg, smoking, alcohol use) and social condition (eg, poverty, homelessness).

Goals and objectives

The goal of the Global Task Force on digital health and TB is to advise the Global TB Programme of WHO (WHO/GTB) on the promotion of information and communication technology for TB prevention, care and control, in line with the objects of the End TB Strategy of WHO. To this end it will advise WHO/GTB on:

  • the development of digital health products by relevant partners that are aligned to the challenges posed by TB to health care providers and patients;
  • the approach to the review of evidence and best practices for the effectiveness of digital health interventions in TB care and control;
  • how to support WHO Member States to scale up digital health technologies for TB care and control based on existing knowledge.

Areas of work

Following an agreement in 2014 between the WHO Global TB Programme and the European Respiratory Society to work jointly on digital health and TB and tobacco control, a consultation on the topic was held in Geneva in 25-26 February 2015.

As an outcome of this meeting two inter-related areas of work were defined as immediate priorities and the Task Force was entrusted with the responsibility to cover each of these areas.

1) Target product profiles (TPPs) for digital health products relevant to TB care and control

The characteristics of the priority ICT products will be defined. The choice of these products was made based on several considerations : they represent a solution targeting a priority problem in TB care or control; there is experience or evidence of effectiveness in their use; the product is strategically positioned for scale-up. The specifications will be drawn up in accordance with methods used for target product profiles (“TPPs”). These will guide system developers and decision-makers on the type of products required by end-users to address the challenges posed by TB to health care providers, patients and their families.

2) Case studies on "scalability" * of digital health interventions for TB care and control

Country-level projects will be supported to improve the uptake of e/mHealth for TB control at large scale.

* Scalability is defined (Wikipedia; 2015) as the ability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner or its ability to be enlarged to accommodate that growth.