Estonia to sign digital health cooperation deal with WHO

Estonian and World Health Organization (WHO) flags.
Estonian and World Health Organization (WHO) flags. Source: Government Office.

The government will work more closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the digital health sphere, a move which it says will raise Estonia's digital international profile both in providing solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) will digitally sign a memorandum of understanding with WHO president Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday.

Ratas said in a statement on Thursday: "Cooperation with the WHO in the field of digital health is of significant significance for Estonia. This is a great recognition of our digital experience and an opportunity to contribute to the modernisation of the healthcare sector in a way that affects the whole world.

"In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Estonia can offer its best experience to a global organisation to accelerate the safe and reliable flow of information between countries. We have the opportunity to raise to an international level the principles of decentralised governance on which the success of the entire Estonian digital state is based.

"Especially important is the fact that it is through our experience by which we can help the global community emerge faster from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis."

The protocol enables Estonian entrepreneurs and research institutions to start working on WHO projects.

The first project companies will start digitising is a global "yellow vaccination card" which enables reliable and transparent cross-border exchange of vaccination data. It can be used once the coronavirus vaccine has been developed.

Steps will also be taken to introduce the X-Road data exchange on a global basis, to allow either WHO or its member states to set up various cross-border services.

Preparation for the WHO cooperative work will start this month.

What is the X-Road?

X-Road® software based solution X-tee is the backbone of the Estonian e-state. It allows the nation's various public and private sector e-service information systems to link up and function in harmony. It is used by more than 1,000 organizations and enterprises every day.

Estonia's e-solution environment includes a full range of services for the general public, and since each service has its own information system they all use X-tee to communicate. To ensure secure transfers, all outgoing data is digitally signed and encrypted, and all incoming data is authenticated and logged.

It connects different information systems that may include a variety of services. It has developed into a tool that can also write to multiple information systems, transmit large data sets and perform searches across several information systems simultaneously.

The service has also been implemented in Finland, Kyrgyzstan, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Japan and other countries. Similar technology has also been implemented in Ukraine and Namibia.

Read more here.

Overview of Estonia's X-Road approach. Source: (


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright

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