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Global Initiative on Digital Health

22nd June, 2024 International Relations

Global Initiative on Digital Health

Source: IndianExpress

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.

Context: The GIDH kicked off formally on February 20, 2024 with then Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya joining the virtual launch event. But India is yet to make its contribution of $10 million.


The Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) was launched as a “key deliverable” of India’s G20 Presidency during the Health Ministers’ meeting in Gujarat on August 19 2023 in the run-up to the September 9-10 summit in New Delhi. It became part of the New Delhi declaration and India promised to make a $10-million contribution to it as a seed fund.

Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH)

  • The Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) is a WHO Managed Network of organizations, institutions and government technical agencies actively engaged in supporting national digital health transformation.
  • Created as a vehicle to help accelerate the implementation of the Global Strategy on Digital Health, GIDH aims to focus country-level efforts and align resources toward country-led digital health transformation through strengthened collaboration and knowledge exchange.
  • Formally kicked off on 20 February 2024, GIDH aims to achieve the following objectives through collaborative efforts:


  • Assess and prioritize country needs for sustainable digital health transformation.
  • Increase the alignment of country-level digital health resources and unfunded priorities.
  • Support the accelerated achievement of the strategic objectives of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025.
  • Build capacity and converge efforts to encourage local development, maintenance, and adaptation of digital health technologies to continuously changing needs.

Network of networks with four main components:

  • Country needs tracker
  • Country resource portal (a map of resources available in a country)
  • Transformation toolbox that will share quality-assured digital tools
  • Knowledge exchange.
  • GIDH will support countries in three ways: by listening to their needs, by aligning resources to avoid fragmentation and overlap, and by providing quality assured products.
  • Membership: Membership is open to all institutions engaged in digital health.

Importance of digital healthcare in India

  • Driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, India has adopted digital health at a breathtaking pace. The unprecedented health crisis paved the way for the adoption of telemedicine and thus proved to be a dawn of remote and patient-centric care.
  • Digital healthcare has the potential to prevent disease and lower healthcare costs while helping patients monitor and manage chronic conditions. Not only this, but it can also tailor medicine for individual patients.

Realizing the true potential of digital healthcare in India will need to overcome some tough challenges.

  • The disparity in the rural-urban healthcare system in the country is huge. Over 75% of the healthcare infrastructure is concentrated in metro cities, where only 27% of the total population resides—the rest 73% of the Indian population lack even basic medical facilities.
  • The primary medical centers are lacking over 3,000 doctors and in the last decade, the shortage has increased by over 200%. Also India’s Out-Of-Pocket-Expenditure (OOPE) for health is one of the highest in the world at 63 percent in 2018.

Digital healthcare: Changing the healthcare landscape in India 

  • Digitalisation began transforming healthcare in several ways during the pandemic.
  • One of the biggest benefits of digital healthcare is telemedicine. With its mass adoption during the pandemic, patients in rural and remote areas, who remained aloof from healthcare services, can now access affordable and quality healthcare. With the help of innovative technology, they can now seek online consultation and get medicines delivered to their homes in a few minutes. 
  • With digital tools, healthcare providers have an extensive view of patient health by significantly increasing access to health data. The emergence of medical wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers has made patients more aware of their health and can help in the prevention of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. This gives patients greater control over their health.
  • Spurred by the pandemic, rapid digitization along with other dominating factors like increasing internet and smartphone penetration worked to accelerate the Indian health infrastructure towards digital healthcare.
  • Government initiatives like National Digital Health Mission and Make in India accelerate the pace of digitization in health. 

Focus on integrated digital health ecosystem

  • India’s National Health Authority has also reached out to health IT players who would like to develop digital health solutions. These solutions will form part of the country’s digital health ecosystem. 
  • The agency (NHA), which implements the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), said health IT providers can file their Expression of Interest in developing the Unified Health Interface, an open, interoperable platform connecting various digital health solutions; the Health Claims Platform where healthcare providers can submit their e-claims; SaaS solutions; open-source solutions; and other digital health solutions.

Overcoming challenges & roadblocks

  • The absence of clear regulations and guidelines may lead to fraudulent practices, misuse of digital prescriptions, data theft, and misuse of electronic health records (EHR).
  • Another roadblock to the digitalization of the healthcare system in India is the lack of digital infrastructure and skilled professionals.
  • While digital upskilling and robust infrastructure can prove to be expensive endeavors, India has to take steps in this direction, besides overcoming data privacy and cybersecurity, to unlock its full potential in digital healthcare. In this direction, the 2023 Budget announcement of setting up 157 new nursing colleges is a welcome move.

Digital Innovations in India's Health Sector

Digital India is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

Digital India programme has brought tremendous changes in the health care sector of India. Initiatives like Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, CoWIN App, Aarogya Setu, e-Sanjeevani, e-Hospital have made health care facilities and services reach every corner of India. These initiatives bridge the existing gap among different stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  • The vision of ABDM is to create a national digital health ecosystem that supports universal health coverage in an efficient, accessible, inclusive, affordable, timely and safe manner, that provides a wide range of data, information and infrastructure services.
  • It also ensures the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information. The Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) Number is a hassle-free method of accessing and sharing one’s health records digitally.
  • It enables interaction with participating healthcare providers and allows one to receive one’s digital lab reports, prescriptions and diagnosis seamlessly from verified healthcare professionals and health service providers.


  • A personal health record, or PHR, is an electronic application through which patients can maintain and manage their health information (and that of others for whom they are authorized) in a private, secure, and confidential environment.

Aarogya Setu

  • Aarogya Setu has transformed into a National Health App, bringing you a whole plethora of digital health services powered by the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
  • Using Aarogya Setu, one can register for an Ayushman Bharat Health Account (i.e., Digital Health ID) and leverage it for interaction with participating healthcare providers, and allows one to receive digital lab reports, prescriptions and diagnosis seamlessly from verified healthcare professionals and health service providers.
  • Aarogya Setu helps one to schedule online doctor appointments powered by eSanjeevani OPD Application.
  • Aarogya Setu helps to schedule/reschedule/cancel appointments for Covid-19 vaccination.


  • eSanjeevani - the National Telemedicine Service has evolved into the world’s largest documented telemedicine implementation in primary healthcare.
  • The cloud-based eSanjeevani platform is implemented in two modes:

eSanjeevaniAB-HWC (a provider-to-provider telemedicine platform)

This variant provides assisted teleconsultations for patients who walk into Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs).

eSanjeevaniOPD (a patient-to-provider telemedicine platform)

It empowers citizens to access health services in the confines of their homes through smartphones or laptops etc.


  • CoWIN was launched to strengthen the COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) system. It is a digitalized platform being used to effectively roll out and scale up the mechanism for the COVID Vaccine Distribution System nationally. 


  • The e-Hospital application is a Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) for internal workflows and processes of hospitals. This one-stop solution helps in connecting patients, hospitals and doctors on a single digital platform.
  • e-Hospital is made available to Central Government/ State Government/ Autonomous/ Cooperative hospitals on the cloud through the SaaS (Software as a Service) model.

 The e-Hospital project was initiated with the following objectives:

  • To provide the e-Hospital, e-BloodBank and ORS applications to government hospitals.
  • To provide online patient portal for delivery of citizen centric services like online appointment booking, access to lab reports online and blood availability status.
  • To provide application related technical support to the hospitals through dedicated Call Centre/ Helpdesk.


  • The e-BloodBank application facilitates the implementation of a complete blood bank management system.

Features of e-BloodBank App

  • User friendly and configurable.
  • Simple onboarding process for Blood Transfusion Centre or Storage Unit.
  • Real-time blood stock availability.
  • Request for blood with a touch of a button.
  • Blood donation history.
  • Upcoming Blood camps in nearby district.


  • Services e-Health Assistance and Teleconsultation(SeHAT) is the tri-services teleconsultation service of the Ministry of Defense designed for all entitled personnel and their families.


  • eRaktKosh is a centralized blood bank management system, for automation of blood banks.
  • It has following six major components for management of blood donation life cycle:
  • The biometric Donor Management System for identifying, tracking and blocking donors based on donor's health, donation history etc.
  • It provides features such as blood grouping, TTI screening, antibody screening, component preparation as per the defined processes and rules.
  • A centralized Blood Inventory Management System for keeping track of the blood stock across numerous blood banks.
  • Bio-Medical Waste Management System for disposal of discarded blood and other waste generated during this process.
  • Generation of rare blood group donor registries and the generation of regular repeat donors.
  • Alert and Notification System.

The road ahead

  • Digital health is more of a necessity today, although driven by the unprecedented health crisis. Building India’s digital health ecosystem will not only accelerate the development of digital health tools but also make them available to both the general populace and private organizations.
  • Seeing the health trends like AI and telemedicine that have emerged in the last year, the Indian healthcare system is projected to witness a massive spike in demand as well as supply of digital healthcare services. 
  • This new ecosystem will see the implementation of AI, robotics, IoT, and telemedicine at a whole new level.


Indian Express, ToI


Q. The Digital India initiative is a people’s movement, powered by people’s strength and their efforts to learn as well as innovate. Analyze 150 words