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Indian Govt Rebuts Lancet’s Claims on Health Data Inaccuracy

Written by : Jayati Dubey

April 15, 2024

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In addition to data transparency concerns, the Lancet editorial alleges a decline in government expenditure on healthcare.

Indian Government officials have rebutted Medical Journal 'The Lancet's claims, asserting that India employs a comprehensive system for recording births and deaths under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act of 1969.

This comes in response to recent assertions by The Lancet regarding the accuracy and transparency of healthcare data in India. Government officials have emphasized the robustness of the country's data documentation system.

The Lancet editorial titled 'India's elections: Why data and transparency matter' has sparked debate over the reliability of information crucial for health policy, planning, and management.

Reportedly, this legislation ensures a unified process of continuous, permanent, compulsory, independent, and universal recording of births and deaths.

Furthermore, officials highlight that over 90% of births and deaths in India are registered online through state or national portals. This digitalization of registration processes enhances accessibility and facilitates efficient data management, contributing to the reliability and timeliness of healthcare data.

Lancet Calls for Greater Transparency

The Lancet editorial titled 'India's elections: Why data and transparency matter' underscores the importance of transparent data sharing by the government to enable accurate analysis and action to improve health indices in the country.

The editorial raises concerns over delays and setbacks in data collection and publication, particularly noting the postponement of the 2021 census due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The editorial highlights challenges in data collection, including delays in national and state-level health surveys and the absence of comprehensive census data for over a decade.

These gaps in data availability impede effective health policy formulation and hinder efforts to address public health challenges.

Discrepancies in COVID-19 Death Toll

The Lancet also questions India's official COVID-19 death toll, citing estimates from WHO and other sources that are significantly higher than the government's figure of 4.8 Lakh deaths.

The journal emphasizes the need for access to unpublished civil registration reports to verify the accuracy of official statistics.

In addition to data transparency concerns, the Lancet editorial alleges a decline in government expenditure on healthcare.

However, government officials dispute these claims, citing an increase in healthcare allocation over the years and a reduction in the proportion of out-of-pocket expenses as part of total healthcare expenditure.

Investigations & Reforms

The Lancet references investigations by India's comptroller and auditor general and a parliamentary panel, which revealed irregularities in the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

However, despite several irregularities and criticisms, it also acknowledged the government's efforts to prioritize universal health coverage through initiatives such as the Ayushman Bharat.

The scheme aims to establish health and wellness centers across the country and provide health insurance coverage to millions of Indians, with the potential to improve access to quality healthcare and reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

The discourse between The Lancet and the Indian government underscores the critical importance of accurate and transparent healthcare data for informed decision-making and policy formulation.

While challenges persist, government initiatives and collaborative efforts with stakeholders are essential to address gaps in data collection and ensure the delivery of equitable and accessible healthcare services to all citizens.


About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org

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