Union health secretary highlights role of Digital Health in ensuring accessible healthcare services

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New Delhi: Union Health Secretary Apurva Chandra, at a side event of the World Health Assembly, highlighted transformative role of Digital Health in ensuring equitable and accessible healthcare services, contributing to universal health coverage and achievement of ‘Good Health and Well-being’.

During the ongoing 77th World Health Assembly, India hosted a side event on Digital Health, which saw participation by the Quad countries (Australia, Japan and the United States of America).

The purpose of the event was to emphasise the transformative potential of digital public infrastructure for addressing social determinants of health, a health ministry statement said.

It was attended by delegates from over 100 countries highlighting collaborative efforts in advancing digital public infrastructure globally.

Chandra, head of the Indian Delegation, outlined India’s advancements in digital health.

He emphasised India’s success in implementing digital public infrastructure for digital identities (Aadhaar), unified payments interface (UPI) for financial transactions and effective health service delivery with Co-WIN during the pandemic, the statement said.

He said that Co-WIN is being transformed into UWIN for the National Immunisation Programme, the statement said.

It will aid in linking and providing immunisation record of 30 million newborns and mothers every year followed by Anganwadi and school health record, the statement stated.

The Union health secretary also highlighted India’s effort under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), which aims to create a robust national digital health ecosystem.

With over 618 million unique health IDs (ABHA IDs) generated, 268,000 health facilities registered, and 350,000 healthcare professionals enlisted, ABDM exemplifies India’s commitment to digital healthcare, he said.

He added that as part of ABDM, the Government of India is launching the National Health Claims Exchange (NHCX) to transform the insurance payments ecosystem leveraging the public private partnership (PPP) built on top of the digital public infrastructure.

He also highlighted other initiatives by the government to address health gaps using Digital Health. He said, “AB PMJAY (Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana) is the world’s largest public-funded health insurance scheme providing a health cover of Rs 5 Lakh to 55 crore needy and vulnerable population. The scheme has provided seven crore treatments worth Rs 89,000 crore.”

“e-Sanjeevani, the world’s largest telemedicine initiative, serving 241 million patients, including 57 per cent women and 12 per cent senior citizens has led to savings of USD 2.15 billion in out-of-pocket expenses,” he further said.

Ambassador Arindam Bagchi, Permanent Representative of India at Geneva, highlighted India’s commitment to leveraging digital technology to enhance healthcare accessibility and efficiency.

The side event underscored the pivotal role of Digital Health, particularly the digital public infrastructure approach in shaping the future of global healthcare and India emerging as a pioneer in citizen-centric Digital Health ecosystem.

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