Digital solutions hold the capacity to revolutionize the healthcare delivery systems and under the visionary leadership of the prime minister, India aims to launch a global initiative on digital health as an institutional framework, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Monday.
This framework aims to converge the global efforts for digital health and scale up digital solutions with use of cutting-edge technologies, Mandaviya said as he virtually addressed the 'Global Conference on Digital Health - Taking Universal Health Coverage to the Last Citizen', a co-branded event under India's G20 Presidency organised by WHO - South-East Asia Region in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
"It is time to move from 'silos to systems' with collaboration of all countries for enhanced coverage and quality of healthcare services," he said. Highlighting the importance of digital health, Mandaviya said digital health is a great enabler in delivery of healthcare services and has the potential to support overall universal health coverage (UHC) targets.
He further said that national health policies proved instrumental for various path-breaking digital health intervention ensuring availability, accessibility and affordablility, and equity of health services.
Mandaviya elaborated that through this initiative, “we are building consensus on promotion of digital public goods as a key enabler in achieving universal health coverage targets through customization and democratization of technologies”.
Addressing the event, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said digital health can significantly improve the quality, accessibility, affordability and sustainability of person centric health services and effectiveness of disease management.
"Digital health is a critical imperative today as it can democratize healthcare and fast track what our Region has been working intensely towards since 2014 - the universal health coverage,” she said. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has particularly highlighted the importance of the application of digital technologies to health and its potential to strengthen health systems, prevent disease and enhance service delivery at the global, national and sub-national level, she said.
Addressing the challenges in universalization of digital health and enabling of equitable access to healthcare services across the world, particularly for low- and middle-income countries, Mandaviya said that “aligned with the ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, India provided Co-Win, E-sanjeevani, and Aarogya Setu applications as digital public goods exemplifying our commitment to global health and our role in driving equitable access to critical health solutions”.
Reiterating India's commitment towards Universal Health Coverage, the health minister cited digital interventions have become the foundations of many crucial health programmes such as reproductive child healthcare, Ni-kshay, TB control programme, integrated disease surveillance system, hospital information system, among many others.
He also said that India's adoption of digital health as a critical intervention from the onset of the pandemic became a defining juncture as it enabled healthcare services to a wide range of services with ease, reaching the innermost regions of the nation.
"India accordingly under its G20 Presidency has prioritized digital health as a specific priority in its Health Working Group namely 'Digital Health Innovation and Solutions to aid UHC and improve Healthcare Service Delivery'. It aims to align, support and converge efforts, investments, and promotes the concept of digital public health goods to aid Universal Health Coverage,” he added.