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IMA Raises Concerns Over NDHM Implementation in Andhra Pradesh

Written by : Jayati Dubey

May 6, 2024

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The IMA is concerned about inadequate data security, fearing potential risks such as unauthorized access and misuse of sensitive health information.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has raised concerns over the privacy, security, and safety of health records within the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) ecosystem in Andhra Pradesh.

Dr RV Asokan, the national president of IMA, recently visited the state to discuss these issues with IMA-AP members.

Expressing concern over potential misuse by private entities and foreign powers, Dr Asokan called for stringent data protection measures. He sought clarification from the state government on mandatory data sharing under the Clinical Establishment Act.

The IMA worries that inadequate data security measures may expose sensitive health information of individuals to risks such as unauthorized access, data breaches, or misuse.

Absence of Appropriate Laws

Highlighting the absence of appropriate laws regarding data privacy and protection in India, Dr Asokan raised concerns about uploading detailed medical records to a centralized platform.

He questioned the state government's objectives of interoperability and accessibility and emphasized the need for clear guidelines for data protection.

In response to IMA's concerns, the director of Health and Family Welfare (HFW) addressed the issues regarding NDHM's data privacy and security.

The HFW director highlighted robust measures such as the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) led by WHO and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDPA) to safeguard personal data.

Existing laws, such as the Information Technology Act of 2000, provide legal recognition for electronic transactions.

Moreover, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) guidelines ensure privacy through 'Privacy by Design' and federated digital architecture, with no centralized data repository and strict consent protocols.

The ABDM aims to establish a National Digital Health Ecosystem, offering citizens longitudinal Electronic Health Records.

The director reaffirmed the Government of India's commitment to Digital Health India, urging support for NDHM and inviting private hospitals to join the ecosystem for its success.

However, Dr Asokan stated that the response and measures were not satisfactory. He mentioned writing to the CEO of the National Health Authority, seeking clarification over the legal basis for the adoption of ABDM in Private Health Care Facilities (HCFs) in Andhra Pradesh.

He asserted that the IMA is considering filing a writ petition in the State High Court after receiving an official response from the CEO of NHA.

It's important to recall that the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), a crucial component of the NDHM launched in 2021, aims to establish an integrated online platform connecting patients and healthcare providers nationwide.

It enhances transparency, efficiency, and overall patient outcomes. Andhra Pradesh became the pioneer state in India by integrating over one crore electronic health records with the ABDM. The state successfully generated over 3.4 Cr Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) numbers.

The efficacy of ABDM lies in the seamless linkage of ABHA numbers with medical data, enabling patients to access their comprehensive health records from any location within the country without the need for physical documentation.

As of January 24, 2024, a staggering 52,50,15,110 ABHA numbers have been issued nationwide, with Andhra Pradesh contributing significantly by generating 4,12,31,065 ABHA numbers, ranking third in India in terms of numbers generated.


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