Indian Health Ministry inks MoU with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for telemedicine initiative

The National Health Agency (NHA) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to provide information and eligibility validation services to beneficiaries, especially in remote areas in the country.

According to a press statement released by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the MoU intends to implement the National Health Protection Mission Ayushman Bharat (AB-NHPM) scheme through 300,00 Common Service Centres (CSCs) in India.

The NHA is the apex body that is responsible for the implementation of the National Health Protection Mission, and Common Service Centres scheme under the Digital India Initiative.

The Digital India initiative that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015, is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

CSCs function as access points for the delivery of various digital services to citizens including banking, education, health services and passport and unique identification number (Aadhaar) registration. The CSCs also provide access to online government services such as booking train tickets, submission of forms and bills etc. CSCs have played an important role in shaping a new economic model for rural India.

The National Health Protection Scheme is expected to cover over 100 million poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 million beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to around US $7,287 (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

CSCs are physical facilities to deliver government e-services to rural and remote areas where computer devices and online resources are not easily accessible.

They are a multiple-services-single-point model designed to provide facilities for multiple transactions at a single geographical location. As the benefits under the AB-NHPM were based on entitlement and not on enrolment, the CSCs spread across rural India have the potential to become the key point of information for possible beneficiaries and help to validate their entitlement.  The beneficiaries under the scheme can avail services anywhere in India and it is expected to bring a visible relief to its target families.

The MoU was signed by Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO, National Health Agency (NHA) and Dr Dinesh Tyagi, CEO, Common Service Centre-Special Vehicle. Mr Jagat Prakash Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and Justice & Information Technology were present at the signing.

The press statement released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare quoted Mr Jagat Prakash Nadda saying that through the MoU, Digital India is taking a big leap forwards and the National Health Protection Mission will be able to benefit 550 million people across the country. The 300,000 CSCs in 250,000 village councils in the country will help in the implementation of the scheme.

Dr Indu Bhushan noted that the collaboration will not only create more accessibility and transparency in the beneficiary validation process but will also spread awareness among the targeted beneficiaries. The network of CSCs is the cornerstone of Digital India and they will provide support to the flagship mission to build a healthy India.

The National Health Protection Mission targets approximately 107.4 million deprived families and has identified the occupational category of urban workers’ families as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data, for both rural and urban India. The CSC scheme will provide access to the Beneficiary Identification System (BIS), which confirms application from entitled beneficiaries using SECC and National Health Insurance Scheme (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana) databases.

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