Giving Citizens Digital Access to Their Health Data is a First Step toward Enabling Person-Centered Health

Smart Health Card Launch

Front row to back row (L-R) Nelly Ale – Head, Health Ecosystem, Mastercard Foundation, Dr. Daniel Ngamije – Hon. Minister of Health, Rwanda, Maimouna Ndeye: ICT Director Senegal Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister of Digital Economy and Telecommunication, Senegal, Paul Meyer; President and Co- Founder, The Commons Project, Jean Philbert Nsengimana; Senior Advisor, Africa- The Commons Project, Phil Cotton: Director, Human Capital Development; Mastercard Foundation, Dr. Ibrahima Khaliloulah DIA – National Coordinator of the Digital Health Unit; Govt of Senegal, Malik Sow – Secretary General, Sénégal Numérique, Papa Salif Sow – Head, Health Initiatives; Mastercard Foundation

Kigali, 22nd July 2022:  The Governments of Rwanda and Senegal began issuing vaccination certificates for COVID-19 using the SMART Health Card standard. SMART Health Cards are secure, digitally-verifiable QR codes containing an individual’s health information that can be carried on paper or smartphone apps and sent via email. 

Initially developed for COVID-19 vaccination records and lab results and adopted by countries including the United States, Canada, and Japan, the SMART Health Card standard is now being extended to provide individuals with additional health data such as routine immunization records, lab results, health insurance information, and prescriptions. 

This person-centred model is a simpler, lower-cost alternative to traditional institution-to-institution health data exchange models. It helps citizens have digital access to their health data, carry it with them, and use it to inform the health care services they receive.

Speaking at the launch event held in Kigali, Rwanda, on Thursday, July 21, 2022, the Minister of Health for Rwanda, Dr. Daniel Ngamije, stated that Rwanda would leverage the innovation to its fullest in line with the country’s universal health coverage objectives. “This person-centered model of health information exchange is now possible thanks to the advancement and penetration of mobile technology and connectivity,” he said.

The Coordinator of the Health Map and Digital Health at the Ministry of Health Senegal, Dr.Ibrahima Khaliloulah DIA, added, “Good health requires good data. Beginning with the dissemination of SMART Health Cards for COVID-19 vaccinations, Senegal is working to empower citizens with access to their health records using open standards.” 

Dr. Ibrahima Khaliloulah, DIA National Coordinator of the Digital Health Unit, Senegal

Digital health innovation holds great potential to expand access, increase quality, and reduce the cost of health services across the continent. “Today marks a significant milestone in African public health as the Mastercard Foundation co-launches the Smart Health Card. This will enable Africans to access, manage, and share their health care data digitally, resulting in a stronger and more efficient health care system in Africa,” said Papa Salif Sow, the Head of Health Initiatives, Mastercard Foundation.

“Every individual should be empowered to access their health information and use it to inform the health services they receive,” said Paul Meyer, President of The Commons Project. “We are working to support health organizations across Africa to provide their patients with access to their health data using open standards, and to use data from their patients to inform the care and services they provide.”

In conjunction with the SMART Health Card launch in Rwanda and Senegal, officials from the Governments of Rwanda and Senegal, the East African Community, Africa CDC, Smart Africa, the Tony Blair Institute, The Commons Project, and the Mastercard Foundation are meeting in Kigali to plan the implementation of the ‘Health My Way’ initiative to support the scale-up of this person-centered digital health model across Africa.


About The Commons Project 

The Commons Project Foundation (“TCP”) is a global tech non-profit. Established in 2019, TCP improves lives by empowering people to access, manage, and share their data. TCP unlocks the potential of technology for the common good by advocating for globally interoperable standards (i.e., SMART Health Cards), developing global ecosystems (i.e., The Common Trust Network), and building tech solutions that empower individuals with their own data (i.e., CommonHealth).

To learn more about The Commons Project Foundation, visit their website and follow on LinkedIn and Twitter (@commons_prjct). For general inquiries, email info@thecommonsproject.org.  


About the Mastercard Foundation  

The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian foundation and one of the largest in the world, with approximately $40 billion in assets. The Foundation was created in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. Since its inception, the Foundation has operated independently of the company. The Foundation’s policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by its Board. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org 


Media Contacts: 

The Commons Project Foundation 

Ann Glory Kathure 



Mastercard Foundation 

Nonye Mpho Omotola 

Lead, Health Program Communications, Human Capital Development