The history of the Health GeoLab Hub started with the establishment of the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) GIS Lab in June 2016 thanks to the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), WHO, UNICEF, and Esri. The thinking and processes that led to the establishment of the AeHIN GIS Lab are described in the following ADB brief: The Geography of Universal Health Coverage.
The quick Health Information System (HIS) geo-enabling assessment survey conducted in preparation for the Digital Health Conference and 5th AeHIN General Meeting (Naypyitaw, March 2017) demonstrated that all 13 countries that answered the survey had some GIS capacity and had been using it to produce thematic maps but other elements key to a sustainable geo-enablement of their HIS were lacking.
While the AeHIN GIS Lab has helped to improve the geo-enablement of the HIS in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the task remained too big for a single entity to fill the gaps observed across the Region in the limited time available to reach the health-related SDGs.
The establishment of the Health GeoLab Collaborative in December 2017 was the cost-effective solution to fill this gap. By becoming a collaborative, the Health GeoLab aimed to bring together a larger set of institutions and individuals sharing a common vision and ready to engage their respective skills, experience, and resources in the implementation of the HIS geo-enabling framework. The following two ADB briefs provide more information about this transition: Building capacity for geo-enabling health information systems: supporting equitable health services and well-being for all.
After 6 years of operation, the opportunity to consolidate and institutionalize the expertise, experience, and knowledge built by MORU and the Health GeoLab Collaborative over the past decades presented itself and led to the formal launch of the Health GeoLab Hub in March 2023. The Hub continues to serve as a capacity strengthening and knowledge sharing hub in the Region and contributes to further filling the gap between sustainable development and research.