NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

Digital health in response to COVID-19 in low and middle income countries

This project is based at the University of Malaya in Malaysia


  • Project title:  Strengthening rapid innovation research and implementation capacity in digital health in response to COVID-19, in low and middle income countries
  • Based at:  University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia
  • Start date:  July 2020
  • End date:  August 2021
  • Principal investigators:  Jay Evans, Professor Dr Ee Ming Khoo and Associate Professor Adina Abdullah
  • Project team:  Dr Yew Kong Lee, Professor Dr Su May Liew, Dr Norita Hussein, Associate Professor Dr Nik Sherina Hanafi, Associate Professor Thiam Kian Chiew, Professor Sazlina Shariff, Associate Professor Ai Theng Cheong, Associate Professor Dr Julia Patrick Engkasan, Dr Soo Chin Chan, Dr Hooi Min Lim, Dr Wei Leik Ng, Dr Chin Hai Teo, Dr Sitinurkamilla Ramdzan, Maria Georgiou, Monica Fletcher, Luciana D’Adderio


COVID-19 has demonstrated the need to rapidly design, test, refine and iterate digital health solutions. Additionally, the need to have the capacity to assess, evaluate and deploy these solutions at scale is also critical. However, capacity of governments in low and middle income countries to scale and sustain new mHealth/eHealth tools has been limited.

This project is proposed in response to the impact of COVID-19 on clinical management, limitations in health care professional skills and knowledge and capacity building. It will enable support to eHealth innovations which will; increase access to accurate information, facilitate health care delivery and put evidence-based measures into practice for successful disease prevention and control.

Although there has been an increase of eHealth innovations in Malaysia, this has been introduced systematically, which is hindering wide-spread adoption. Hence this project aims to identify and analyse the eHealth innovations that have been developed or are developing in Malaysia, to identify gaps and opportunities for further innovations and develop strategies to enable sustainable implementation of eHealth innovations in response to COVID-19 and beyond.

Aim and impact

This project aims to improve the capability of government and academia to rapidly prototype, iterate and scale digital health solutions during times of acute crisis and to produce new tools for use by front line health workers, to both prevent spread of the disease and manage people with COVID-19.

This will be delivered through two work packages in support of the RESPIRE network:

  1. Strengthen the rapid innovation capacity among the partners through a programme of training and mentorship on Digital Health
  2. Co-design digital health innovations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic along with partners in the RESPIRE network

Key developments

  • A Workshop on Policy and Regulatory Environment was conducted on 27th October 2020.
  • A Workshop on Finance and Funding was conducted on 27th November 2020.

Project data

Download the project Data Management Plan