EHS-COVID (487) Despite COVID-19 connectivity boost, world’s poorest left far behind 

2 December, 2021

A UN news item notes there was a sharp rise in the number of people online since 2019, which appears to be largely due to the pandemic. 'There were an estimated 782 million additional people who went online since 2019, an increase of 17 per cent due to measures such as lockdowns, school closures and the need to access services like remote banking.' Previous annual rises were around 10%.

The item links to the latest report from tje International Telecommunications Union - Measuring digital development:Facts and Figures 2021 -

'The UN agency’s report found that the unusually sharp rise in the number of people online suggests that measures taken during the pandemic contributed to the “COVID connectivity boost.”

Neverthemess, '2.9 billion people still have never used the internet, and 96 per cent live in developing countries... Internet access is often unaffordable in poorer nations and almost three-quarters of people have never been online in the 46 least-developed countries'. 

In relation to our discussion on Maintaining essential health services, this report is important because it reminds us that huge numbers of people are unabloe to access the digital health innovations that we have been discussing. The digital divide is further widening the health divide, combining to accelerate inequalities.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,