Public health and privacy concerns

M G Warrier                              

January 21, 2019
Public health and privacy concerns

This refers to Subhomoy Bhattacharjee”s report “Soon, patients’ data at govt hospitals may be portable” (Business Standard, January 21). While the present move will helpa section of the people, long-term objective has to be universal healthcare which covers all citizens. Vested interests are lobbying against universal coverage of a social security scheme in the name of privacy of personal information.
Time is opportune for evolving a national consensus on privacy. It is in the interest of public security that minimum particulars of a citizen’s identity like name and address do not remain secret. The details now made available on Aadhaar Cards should be made available for being used by agencies implementing government schemes. If there is agreement on this, Aadhaar number can be used for linking database of organizations like banks, hospitals, educational institutions etc.
The above database can support a personalized health-card system linked to Aadhaar Card. The health-card could capture basic health information(BHI) in respect of every citizen that any medical practitioner will need before treating a patient for any ailment. Illustratively BHI could include Blood Group, Allergies and Brief Medical History. The data on the health-card can be updated whenever the person undergoes any medical test or treatment. Use of uniform software for storing such data and portability of information will help develop a healthcare system in India comparable with the one obtaining in UK.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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