Health is the new wealth. The impact of COVID-19 on different countries is a reminder that everyone has to take healthcare very seriously. The Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Healthy Longevity virtual conference organized by the Healthy Life Extension Society (HEALES) shows the importance of leveraging healthcare data for research and development.
Agbolade Omowole, convener of Nigeria ICT Fest and executive director of Longevity Nigeria suggested that researchers should seek consent before using people’s health data, make people understand how decisions are made with their data and ensure that they don’t increase the existing gaps in healthcare delivery. He said “It is unethical to use people’s health data for research without consent. People should have the option to opt-out”
Thierry Geerts, country director, Google Belgium and Luxembourg speaking at the conference, mentioned that we no longer live in countries anymore. We live in Digitalis, which is a kind of country with 4.5 billion people which translates to lots of health data. In his words “we have to reinvent healthcare and that is something that Google is doing.”
Another speaker from Belgium, Didier Couernell addressed legal and ethical aspects of healthcare data sharing such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), social acceptance and ethical use of healthcare data.
The last speaker, Stefan Sorgner, a German philosopher, mentioned a section of Harari’s opinion piece last year, titled the world after coronavirus “Asking people to choose between privacy and health is, in fact, the very root of the problem. Because this is a false choice. We can and should enjoy both privacy and health.” Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli public intellectual, historian and a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Stefan believes that Harari is wrong because to promote health effectively, large amount of data is needed.