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Modi Govt plans personal health IDs, e-records for citizens.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) on August 15, which has been envisaged as a complete digital health ecosystem with personal health IDs for every Indian, digitization of health records as well as a registry of doctors and health facilities across the country.
The proposal has received in-principle cabinet approval and the final nod is expected by the end of this week, top official sources said. “The PM is expected to announce launch of the mission as part of his Independence Day speech on August 15,” a source said.

The digital platform will be launched with four key features – health ID, personal health records, Digi Doctor and health facility registry. At a later stage, it will also include e-pharmacy and telemedicine services, regulatory guidelines for which are being framed.

The platform is voluntary as it will be up to an individual to get enrolled on the app. Health records will be shared only after authorization by the individual. Similarly, it will be up to hospitals and doctors to provide details for the app. The government, however, feels the utility of the app will ensure widespread participation.
“The implementation of NDHM is expected to significantly improve efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of health service delivery overall and accelerate India’s progress towards achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 3.8 of universal health coverage, including financial risk protection,” National Health Authority (NHA) chief executive Indu Bhushan said.

The NHA, the implementing agency for Ayushman Bharat, has created the platform, which will be available in the form of an app and website. The initiative is seen as another flagship measure in the healthcare sector after health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat (Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana) and will be initially launched in select states and expanded in a phased manner.

The finance ministry has approved a budget of Rs 470 crore for the proposal, but the final NHA proposal may not seek more than Rs 400 crore.
Privacy is taken care of in the design where the ownership of data remains with individuals and consent is required to access it. The individual will have a choice to allow a medical practitioner or facility to access the data even for a limited period of time.
People will also have a choice to link their unique health ID with Aadhaar if they wish to. This ID will be applicable across states, hospitals, diagnostic laboratories and pharmacies.
“NDHM is not a mandating system. It will be an empowering system. It is 100% voluntary in nature but is designed in a manner that it is going to have so many benefits that we feel there is no reason to say no. No one can access someone’s data without consent and there are no exceptions to it, including the government. It is also completely seamless and portable,” an official said.
The Digi Doctor option will allow doctors from across the country to enroll and their details, including their contact numbers if they want to provide them, will be available. These doctors will also be assigned digital signature for free which can be used for writing prescriptions.
Similarly, health facilities will be assigned a unique electronic identifier. This will have a two-fold function — it will ensure that all health facilities are mapped and will also be the identifier that the facility can use for all its clearances and audits.

The theme of NDHM is ‘Making India a Digital Health Nation’ through a national digital health ecosystem. The technology platforms are ready, including the cloud infrastructure, and NDHM will be rolled out immediately after the launch, the official said.


No guarantee any Covid vaccine in development will work: WHO Chief




World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the top health organisation has no guarantee whether any single Covid-19 vaccine now in development will work.

While addressing a virtual press conference, the WHO chief said: “We have no guarantee that any single vaccine now in development will work.”

“The more candidates we test, the higher the chance we will have of a safe and efficacious vaccine,” he added.

According to the WHO, almost 200 vaccines for Covid-19 are currently in clinical and pre-clinical testing.

“The history of vaccine development tells us that some will fail, and some will succeed,” Ghebreyesus said.

Also, the WHO, in collaboration with global vaccine alliance group Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), has launched a scheme COVAX.

The aim of the collaboration is to accelerate the development of Covid-19 vaccines and enable equitable access for every country in the world.

The COVAX Facility enables governments to spread the risk of vaccine development and ensure their populations can have early access to effective vaccines.

Even more importantly, the COVAX Facility is the mechanism that will enable a globally-coordinated rollout for the greatest possible impact.

The facility will help to bring the pandemic under control, save lives, accelerate economic recovery and ensure that the race for vaccines is a collaboration, not a contest, according to the WHO chief.

“The fastest route to ending the pandemic and accelerating the global economic recovery is to ensure some people are vaccinated in all countries, not all people in some countries,” he noted.


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