Bharati Pawar discusses challenges, opportunities of Digital Health

(IANS): Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar represented India at the BRICS ministerial conclave through video conference here on Friday. The panel discussed challenges and opportunities during the implementation of Digital Health.

She addressed the panel on India’s priorities towards full adoption of digital health technologies at all levels and BRICS’s strategy in building a cadre of competent health informatics professionals using a standardized curriculum across BRICS countries.

India’s expectations from the development of a repository of evidence-based digital technologies and innovations for health systems (under BRICS) and India’s strategic approach to sustain the gains from use of digital innovations during COVID-19 in a sustainable manner towards building health systems resilience was also discussed.

Dr. Pawar said: “The two waves presented us with unique challenges for which an effective and humane centralized response sensitive to regional needs was warranted.ADigital health was aptly utilized to manage the pandemic and enabled us for a much more scientific and data-driven approach for strengthening our response.”

Elaborating on India’s National Digital Health Blueprint as an overarching architectural framework for digital initiatives in India, she said, “We are implementing the recommendations for streamlining the digital health programmes through National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). NDHM through the issue of Unique Health ID will create a single source of truth for facilities and practitioners and lead to extension of various health services through digital mode.”

On the creation of a pool of human resource for managing pandemics digitally, the Minister showcased how India leveraged iGoT (online training platform) to train more than 16 million COVID warriors across the spectrum to manage COVID which includes doctors, paramedics, nurses, community participants etc.

Pawar highlighted that BRICS digital health platform is the need of the hour to ensure health data availability across BRICS countries in an interoperable manner to ensure the continuum of care.

Speaking on the technologies adopted during COVID-19, she said, “We initiated a robust mechanism through a national Covid portal which integrated surveillance, testing, logistic management, data-driven analytics etc. We popularized Arogya Setu and ITIHAS application – Digital Surveillance Application to source data from citizens and to predict the upcoming hotpots in the community. Arogya Setu became one of the most downloaded applications with more than 201 million downloads. Similarly, to take health services to the doorstep of citizen, we are augmenting the National telemedicine platform (eSanjeevani) of India and establishing telemedicine HUBs with dedicated doctors in all Districts. The HUBs will serve all facilities in their region, for both Covid & non-Covid health care support.”

India being the host of the BRICS Digital Health Summit, the conclave was presided by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan who brought focus to the wide adoption of digital health in the COVID-19 Pandemic on the spectrum that includes population surveillance, active case finding, communication with common citizens in crisis.

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