Hyderabad: Niti Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul on Monday (June 5) said India is committed to minimising the digital health divide by promoting digital solutions and innovation to aid universal health coverage. Addressing an event related to 3rd Health Working Group of G20 India here, Dr Paul said India’s digital goods are for the world, and that the country’s digital infrastructure and capabilities are enablers of global economic growth and human development.
He gave the keynote address for the event titled ‘Digital Health Innovations and Solutions to Aid Universal Health Coverage and Improve Healthcare Service Delivery’ during the second day of the G20 meet in the city. Dr Paul said,
India as the voice of Global South is committed to minimising the digital health divide by promoting digital solutions and innovation to aid universal health coverage
Quoting a previous statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Digital India, Dr Paul said, “I dream of a digital India with quality healthcare is accessible right up to the remotest regions powered by e-healthcare.” He said deliberations in the health working groups suggest that digital technologies can play a very critical role in achieving universal health coverage and combating health emergencies.
Digital health, through initiatives such as telemedicine and mobile apps, can enable universal health coverage by increasing access to people irrespective of location or socio-economic status, he said.
The G20 Health Working Group is deliberating to create a global digital health initiative to provide a platform to promote equitable access to digital tools and technologies among the concerned countries towards ensuring universal health coverage, he added. Dr Paul stated,
There is concurrence among the participating countries and multilateral agencies that a global system of this nature should be created that should become an enabler of universal health coverage through technologies
Digital technologies are playing a crucial role in healthcare and are changing rapidly from artificial intelligence to 5G virtual reality and block chain, he said.
Dr Paul said that there is an agreement that to build a platform where digital health tools are stored in a repository and are made accessible to any country or a partner.
He cited the example of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission saying
It brings together state government, Union government, laboratories, insurance providers, health tech companies, doctors, NGOs program managers, other stakeholders keeping the citizens at the centre of the endeavours. Let us envision a world where a comprehensive package of digital health tools and services are accessible to all, where digital health is for all by 2035
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Christopher Elias, President, Global Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the world has seen momentum in development of lower and middle-income countries in the last decade, especially after the Covid pandemic.
World Health Organization official Dr Alain Labrique said “quality, efficiency, equity and inclusion” of global health systems will depend on how the group works together. Dr Labrique, Director, Department of Digital Health & Innovation, WHO said,
We must as a group invest strategically. This will enable cross border exchange of credential health information now available to all member states
Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that all countries need to be adequately prepared for the next pandemic and must act with “a sense of urgency”. He urged all the stakeholders to come together and act for ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, theme of India G20 Presidency.
The 3rd Health Working Group meeting as part of G20 India Presidency is being held at Hyderabad from June 4-6 and will focus on the three key priorities of the G20 health track.
India’s G20 presidency focuses on three priorities in the health track. One of the priorities is health emergency prevention, preparedness and response with a focus on anti-microbial resistance and the One Health framework.
The other is strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector with a focus on access and availability to safe, effective, quality and affordable medical countermeasures. The third is digital health innovations and solutions to aid universal health coverage and improve healthcare service delivery.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.