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WTTC calls for renewed effort on digital health passes through WHO network

Global tourism body urges countries to join GDHCN
WTTC calls for renewed effort on digital health passes through WHO network

Countries around the world should sign up to the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN) to align health checks for seamless verification across borders in preparation for the next global health crisis, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says.

The GDHCN is operated by the World Health Organization, and WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson writes in an article that to avoid a global tourism shutdown in the event of another pandemic, a unified plan including digital health passes should be established.

The call for renewed effort on universally-recognized digital health passes came as the WHO met for the World Health Assembly in Geneva. The Assembly approved a series of amendments to the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005), but they do not address the GDHCN.

Frenzied efforts to establish and integrate digital health passes abounded during the COVID-19 pandemic, including passes introduced by the International Air Travel Association and national and regional authorities. The WHO produced guidance on interoperability and other issues, and interoperability was also highlighted as a critical feature for both health passes and digital IDs by Zetes, just as the EU Digital Covid Certificate began winding down. The EU DCC later became the starting point for the WHO’s GDHCN.

The Ada Lovelace Institute raised a series of questions about the long-tail impact of digital health passes and the identity systems influenced by or derived from them, suggesting that the technology should only be repurposed with great care.

The WTTC notes that tourism accounts for $10 trillion of the global economy each year, and 330 million jobs. The impact of tourism also extends to social and cultural connections that deserve to be protected, the WTTC argues.

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