India hosts side event on Digital Health at the 77th World Health Assembly at Geneva

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 emphasize the transformative potential of Digital Public Infrastructure for Addressing Social Determinants of Health. It was attended by delegates from over 100 countries highlighting collaborative efforts in advancing digital public infrastructure globally.

Shri Apurva Chandra, Union Health Secretary and Head of the Indian Delegation outlined India’s advancements in digital health. He highlighted the transformative role of Digital Health in ensuring equitable and accessible healthcare services, contributing to Universal Health Coverage and achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3, that is Good Health and Well-being. He emphasized India’s success in implementing digital public infrastructure at scale such as Aadhaar for digital identities, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for the financial transactions and effective health service delivery with Co-WIN during the pandemic.

He informed that Co-WIN is being transformed into UWIN for the National Immunization Programme. It will aid in linking and providing immunization record of 30 million new born and mothers every year followed by Anganwadi and school health record.

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 added that as part of ABDM, Government of India is launching the National Health Claims Exchange (NHCX) to transform the insurance payments ecosystem leveraging the public private partnership built on top of the digital public infrastructure. It will usher in the era of real time settlements with auto adjudication of claims.

He also spotlighted other initiatives by Government of India to address health gaps using digital health. He stated, “AB PMJAY (Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana) is the world’s largest public funded health assurance scheme providing a health cover of Rs 500,000 (Rs 5 Lakh) to 550 million (55 crore) needy and vulnerable population. The scheme has provided 70 million (7 crore) treatments worth US$ 11.2 Billion (Rs 89000 crore).” “e-Sanjeevani, the world’s largest telemedicine initiative, serving 241 million patients, including 57% women and 12% senior citizens has led to savings of USD 2.15 billion in out-of-pocket expenses”, he further stated. Additionally, the NI-KSHAY initiative for TB management and the SAKSHAM online learning platform for health professionals were also underscored as pivotal digital health innovations.

India’s approach to leveraging Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) not only transforms healthcare delivery but also fosters a resilient, equitable society. The Union Health Secretary called for global collaboration to harness digital technologies for a healthier, more inclusive future.

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

Ambassador Bathsheba N. Crocker, Permanent Representative of the United States, Ambassador Atsuyuki Oike, Permanent Representative of Japan and Mr. Blair Exell, Deputy Secretary, Health Strategy, First Nations & Sport, Department of Health, Australia also shared their remarks on the experiences and contributions of their respective countries to digital health. They emphasized the importance of international cooperation in harnessing digital solutions for global health challenges.

Dr. Basant Garg, Additional CEO, National Health Authority, Govt of India, showcased India’s experiences with building robust Digital Public Infrastructure environment with a brief presentation. Dr. Garg presented an overview of the key components and functionalities of the infrastructure, demonstrating how it facilitates seamless health data exchange, improves service delivery, and enhances patient outcomes. He illustrated India’s journey in building a robust digital health ecosystem and its potential to serve as a model for other countries.

The event concluded with another presentation by Prof Alain Labrique, Director, Digital Health & Innovation, WHO, who lauded the giant leap taken by India in implementing Digital Public Infrastructure and demonstrating its ability in facilitating Health care delivery at scale. He also highlighted the efforts of WHO in supporting countries in Digital Transformation in Health.

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.

Ms. Hekali Zhimomi, Addl. Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Ms. Aradhana Patnaik, Addl. Secretary and Managing Director (NHM), Union Health Ministry and other senior officials of the Union Health Ministry were present on the occasion.

Comments are closed.