How India is creating digital health accounts for its citizens without their knowledge
Over 170 million health account numbers have been generated through CoWIN and the government insurance scheme.
In December last year, Rajendra Butte was surprised to discover that he had an Ayushman Bharat health account number. He had not registered for one.
As a monitoring and evaluation officer in the health department of Maharashtra’s Palghar district, Butte is responsible for registrations to the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which aims to digitize India’s health system by bringing patient records, hospital details, and doctors’ credentials on one platform for easy paperless exchange.
On paper, the exercise is meant to be voluntary. A doctor is registered as a healthcare professional, a hospital or diagnostic laboratory as a healthcare facility, and an individual as an Ayushman Bharat Health account holder.
The government began registrations in August 2020. But when Butte decided to register himself, he found a health account number already existed under his name, complete with details like his Aadhaar number and mobile number.
“It must have been automatically created when I registered on CoWIN,” Butte said, referring to the government’s Covid-19 vaccination app. Perplexed over how the account was generated without his consent, he added, “I have told [government] hospitals to inform and then create accounts when patients visit.”
But interviews with people across India suggest this isn’t happening. In Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, Sonu Adil, a 34-year-old shopkeeper, does not know what a health account number is, but his vaccination certificate features a 14-digit unique health ID. “I was not asked or informed about this account,” he told Scroll.in.
Here are the updates from Modi’s speech in New Delhi ( August 2020):
PM Modi announces the launch of the national digital health mission today
PM Narendra Modi announced the launch of the National Digital Health Mission, under which all Indians would get a unique health ID.
He explains the project: Coronavirus has made us think about being self-reliant regarding health.
When the pandemic hit, we could only do 300 tests daily in the one lab we had. Now we can test nearly 7 lakh cases a day. We are launching a big program on health today: National Digital Health Mission. This will revolutionize our health systems. Every Indian will be given a health ID containing all your information. What disease you suffer from, which doctor has been consulted, and what medicines you are on will all be included in your health ID.
Three corona vaccines are in various stages of trial in India: PM Modi
The major question on everyone’s mind these days is regarding the coronavirus vaccine, says PM Modi.
Our scientists are laboring on our three vaccine candidates at various testing stages, adding that once the vaccine is ready, it will be produced and distributed to all Indians in the shortest possible time. He said that a plan is already in place for this.