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India to distribute 1.3 billion digital health IDs

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi started a program on Monday that will distribute digital health identity cards for more than 1.3 billion people and allow them to access their records online.

The initiative is part of an effort to increase its efficiency as the country's healthcare system has suffered significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today begins a mission that has the power to bring a revolutionary change in India’s health facilities,” Modi said in a speech. Using the identification scheme, residents in India will be able to access a large variety of health services.

The program is dubbed the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission and aims to create a digital health infrastructure providing universal health coverage with unique health identification numbers for all residents in the country.

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“With effective and reliable data, medical treatment will be better, and cost will be reduced,” said Modi.

The first three platforms as part of the health identification rollout are now operational, which include the health ID, doctor's registry, and the health facility registry.

Some lawmakers in India have criticized the planned launch of the digital health system due to privacy concerns over the country's growing surveillance patterns, which is heightened by the fact that there is no data protection law in India. Other critics have accused the government of using the pandemic to justify digitizing health records, according to Bloomberg.

India suffered a death toll of nearly 414,482 people before daily COVID-19 cases stabilized in the low hundreds in mid-August. Fatal virus cases blew up across the country between April and July this year amid a rebound wave of the virus spurred by the more transmissible delta variant.

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A July analysis from the Center for Global Development found that the actual death toll in India could be far greater than the number reported by the government, estimating between 3.4 million and 4.7 million deaths since the outset of the pandemic.

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Tags: News, India, Health, Coronavirus, Vaccination

Original Author: Kaelan Deese

Original Location: India to distribute 1.3 billion digital health IDs

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