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India identified digital health as top priority, gained expertise: UNICEF

India has identified digital health as one of its top priorities and has gained excellent expertise in developing and implementing digital health programmes, said UNICEF India’s chief of health Luigi d’Aquino.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led people worldwide to understand the potential of digital services to improve the availability, accessibility, and efficiency of numerous health programmes through different applications and initiatives, said d’Aquino, who participated at the second G20 Health Working Group conference. 

While there has been much advancement in the field of digital health, he claims that numerous opportunities and challenges still need to be explored. Nevertheless, he said that access to digital health services has become easier for citizens due to the evolving tools, strategies, and vision.

“For instance, the CoWin app has enabled millions of people to access COVID-19 vaccines while telemedicine has provided essential care to many citizens when access to healthcare facilities was constrained due to the coronavirus pandemic,” d’Aquino said.

“At UNICEF, we prioritise children’s rights, including the fundamental rights to life, health and development. Therefore, we actively support and promote digital health initiatives that can assist healthcare workers such as ASHA, ANMs, and nurses,” UNICEF India’s chief of health said.

To that end, UNICEF is redefining the Reproductive and Child Health Portal in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Healthcare workers will be able to give real-time data on women and children, which, highlighted d’Aquino, will improve children’s health outcomes by influencing planning, decision-making, and tracking of the most marginalized or at risk population.

“We also work with various states of India to conceptualise, implement, monitor, and scale up digital health solutions that can enhance access to healthy behaviours, practices, and services,” he added.

The second meeting of the G20 health working group aims to consolidate all existing initiatives in health emergencies, prevention, and preparedness by utilizing the advocacy power of the forum. Apart from India, the conference is attended by delegates from 19 G20 member states, 10 countries, and 22 international organizations.

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