Fighting tuberculosis: Can Nikshay save 300,000 lives per year?
Monday, October 14, 2013
Can digital intervention and adoption of information communication technology (ICT) tools save 300,000 TB patients from dying every year?
Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said recently that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has in its two terms in office taken initiatives to revamp two key sectors—health and education. Although public health is a state subject, the central government has made significant investments in developing health infrastructure and services delivery through the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Under NRHM alone, more than Rs.96,000 crore has been provided for revamping rural healthcare. Further, the government is committed to raising spending on health during the 12th Plan (2012-17), and strengthening service delivery to ensure an accessible and affordable healthcare system. More than 10,000 experts are empanelled across the country to spread awareness about health issues and until now more than 15,000 editions of awareness programmes have been telecast.
This thrust is significant and necessary, because 70% of the population lives in rural areas and 37.2% are below the poverty line. What is interesting is to see health infrastructure through the lens of information communication technology (ICT) tools. Are we spending all the money in brick and mortar infrastructure, or human resources, or just in hardware? Are we adequately integrating the high-tech possibilities of digital media and technologies like mobiles, telecom, radio, FM, Wi-Fi and video conferencing?