The Health GeoLab Collaborative was born in December 2017 from the lessons learned during the first year of operation (June 2016-August 2017) of the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) GIS Lab established with the support of Asian Development Bank (ADB), WHO, UNICEF, and Esri.
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 the 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 amount of time available to reach the health-related SDGs.
The establishment of the Health GeoLab Collaborative to bring together a larger number 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 was the cost-effective solution to fill this gap.
The thinking and processes that led to the establishment of the AeHIN GIS Lab and Health GeoLab Collaborative are described in detail in the following two ADB briefs:
- The geography of Universal Health Coverage
- Building capacity for geo-enabling health information systems: supporting equitable health services and well-being for all
Since April 2022, the Health GeoLab Collaborative has been attached to the Health GeoLab group. This group has been established in the Epidemiology Department at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) as a regional resource supporting countries in Asia and the Pacific with the geo-enablement of their Health Information Systems (HIS). It also aims to strengthen and sustain the technical capacity of the health sector in these countries in the management and use of geospatial data and technologies in public health.