December 03, 2009

Health card prop for national ID project

The health ministry’s smart card project for the newborn can provide valuable data to the Unique Identification Authority of India, which under former Infosys chief Nandan Nilekani, is preparing a social security card for all Indians.

Nilekani’s unique identity card programme may dovetail into the proposed e-health card project, which junior health minister Dinesh Trivedi is spearheading.

“I had an exhaustive meeting with Nandan Nilekani and officials of the unique identification project and we both agreed that the e-health card project could well form the basis of new data for the UID project, besides dovetailing into it,” Trivedi told The Telegraph today.

Besides birth details, the e-health card will have information on immunisation and major illnesses. It is being put together by Sam Pitroda, the brain behind India’s early telecom revolution and currently the chairman of the Knowledge Commission.

Nilekani was appointed the head of the unique identity project with the rank of a cabinet minister by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this year. His project, which comes after the Mumbai terror attacks, plans to give all Indians a social security card and a number, similar to the system in the US.

The smart card will not only help welfare departments to target beneficiaries more efficiently but also allow police to keep tabs on individuals who have illegally entered the country.

“We have already started a pilot project to collect data for the e-health card in Barrackpore in Bengal (which the minister represents),” said Trivedi. The project would be extended to cover the rest of the country on the basis of the Barrackpore experience.

Nilekani’s work has been hampered by a lack of comprehensive data on Indian citizens, especially the very poor, despite the voter ID and ration cards. Besides, his department is yet to work out a system of getting data on the newborns.

Link: Original Article

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