“We are aiming at establishing an electronic database in all its districts by the year 2020, to reduce the burden of paper-based data collection, recording, and storage.” This was stated by J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare during his addresses at the Second Plenary Session of ‘2nd International Conference on Primary Healthcare (PHC) towards UHC & SDG’, at Astana, Kazakhstan. The Health Minister spoke on the theme: The Future of Primary Healthcare. He further said that our progress in making improvements in maternal, child health and communicable diseases is largely due to our sustained focus on and investing in strengthening health systems for these services.” “Multi-sectoral action is a key to addressing social and environmental determinants and we have developed operational strategies to build a shared goal and vision between sectors such as nutrition, drinking water and sanitation, education, rural and urban development departments,” the Minister added.
Reiterating the commitment of the government, the Union Health Minister said that India has focused on improved and outreach and primary healthcare services and established referral linkages including transport and strengthened secondary care services, that has largely focused on maternal, new-born, nutrition, child health and communicable disease. Nadda further said that this focus has yielded results, not just in terms of positive health indicators, particularly for those that are primary healthcare sensitive, but in a robust health systems platform that now gives us the confidence to move from selective to comprehensive primary healthcare services. Nadda stated that the government has recently launched the Ayushman Bharat– an initiative that is ambitious in scale and scope. Ayushman Bharat has two components: establishing about 150,000 Health and Wellness centers for the delivery of Comprehensive Primary Healthcare and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana which will address the needs of secondary and tertiary healthcare for nearly 40 percent of our population, he said.
Appreciating the front-line functionaries, Nadda said that community health workers and ASHAs continue to be vital to the success of primary healthcare. With re-articulated and re-clarified roles, empowered by skills and adequate payments, they are strengthening their embeddedness in the community, he added. Speaking on new information and bio-technologies, Nadda said that the role of biotechnology in public health has been used to good effect, particularly in primary healthcare. “The use of point of care diagnostics, which are gradually being made available at the health and wellness centers, will enable providers to resolve more and refer less, thus improving the continuum of care, reducing patient hardship, and consequent out of pocket expenditure,” Nadda added. He further elaborated that the Health Ministry currently have three common applications in use across the country at Health and Wellness Centers a remarkable feat, considering the size and diversity- an app for reproductive child health (RCH), one for non-communicable diseases (NCD) and one for TB.
Over time we will progress towards an interoperable Comprehensive Primary Healthcare application, he mentioned. The Union Health Minister said that other digital Health IT initiatives include an inter-operable electronic health records (EHR) system, patient feedback system (MeraAspatal), personal health record management system (PHRMS), national identification number (NIN) for both public and private health facilities (it is a unique identification number for health facilities). Hospital Information System (HIS) is also being implemented for computerized registration and capturing EHR/EMR of patients in public health facilities up to PHC level. Online registration system (ORS) is a framework to link various hospitals for online registration and appointments, online diagnostic reports and enquiring availability of blood online, he added. – Medical Dialogues