Indian PM unveils 'health ID' scheme for all citizens
August 15 2020 07:50 PM
A general view shows traffic in front of the illuminated India Gate on the occasion of the India's 7
A general view shows traffic in front of the illuminated India Gate on the occasion of the India's 74th Independence Day in New Delhi

Agencies/New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi on Saturday announced a National Digital Health Mission which would use technology to improve health services and provide each citizen with a "health ID" that would include records of their history of illnesses, medication and other information.

The scheme will be rolled out through a pilot launch in the union territories of Chandigarh, Ladakh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

Making the announcement from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of Indian's 74th Independence Day, the prime minister said the scheme comprises six key building blocks - HealthID, DigiDoctor, Health Facility Registry, Personal Health Records, e-Pharmacy and Telemedicine - that will enable access to timely, safe and affordable healthcare through a 'citizen-centric' approach.

All these digital products, except e-Pharmacy and Telemedicine, are up and running.

Modi said the mission will bring about a revolution in the health sector and that a Unique Health ID will be provided to every citizen which will have details of the diseases, diagnosis, reports, medication etc in a common database through a single ID.

The NDHM is a holistic, voluntary healthcare programme that will reduce the existing gap between various stakeholders such as doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, pharmacies, insurance companies, and citizens by bringing them together and connecting them in an integrated digital health infrastructure.

The National Health Authority, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been given the mandate to design, build, roll out and implement the mission in the country.

Expanding on the key components, Dr Indu Bhushan, chief executive officer of the National Health Authority, said: "The core building blocks of the mission is that the Health ID, DigiDoctor and Health Facility Registry shall be owned, operated and maintained by the government of India."

Private stakeholders will have an equal opportunity to integrate and create their own products for the market, Bhushan said, adding that the core activities and verifications, for example generation of Health ID or approval of a doctor will, however, remain with the government.

"The additional components, like Personal Health Record and Electronic Medical Record solutions can be developed by private players as well, in line with guidelines that will be issued. All such products by private participants shall be as per official guidelines taking care of security, privacy and standards of the NDHM ecosystem," Bhushan said.

The mission aims to liberate citizens from the challenges of finding the right doctors, seeking appointment, payment of consultation fee, making several rounds of hospitals for prescription sheets, among several others and will empower people to make an informed decision to get the best possible healthcare.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan welcomed the announcement and said, "Based on the initial learnings in the UTs, we will gradually work in partnership with the states to launch the NDHM. I seek the whole-hearted support, inputs and co-operation of doctors, healthcare facilities, citizens and state governments to adopt this game-changing scheme."

Welcoming the step, Nimesh Desai, director at the Delhi government-run Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), said, "It is an excellent step and need of the hour since everything is moving to digital. However, I hope it should be linked with Ayushman Bharat and equal emphasis should be given to the patients of mental health."

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