Govt. to launch E-health Card pi­lot project in Fe­bru­ary

„To be launched at Ka­lu­tara Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal „All cit­i­zens to get E-health Cards within 6 months

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - MIRROR BUSINESS - By Nishel Fer­nando

The pi­lot project of the gov­ern­ment’s E-health Card ini­tia­tive is to be launched at the Ka­lu­tara Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal on Fe­bru­ary 21 and fol­low­ing the suc­cess of the pi­lot project, all cit­i­zens would be is­sued an E-health Card within six months, Health, Nu­tri­tion and Indige­nous Medicine Min­is­ter Dr. Ra­jitha Se­naratne said.

The min­is­ter said that the par­tic­u­lar com­pany that car­ried out the same pro­gramme in Andhra Pradesh in In­dia has been awarded the con­tract to carry out this task in Sri Lanka. He noted that the com­pany has suc­cess­fully is­sued E-health Cards for over 40 mil­lion peo­ple in Andhra Pradesh.

He re­vealed this while speak­ing at the launch of the first phase of the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion project of the Na­tional Medicines Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity, in Colombo, last Fri­day.

With the is­suance of dig­i­tal IDS, along with the E-health Card, the hos­pi­tals would have a sys­tem with a cen­tral­ized data­base that con­tains the med­i­cal his­tory of ev­ery cit­i­zen of Sri Lanka.

Hence, the ini­tia­tive will al­low doc­tors from any part of the coun­try to ex­pe­dite the re­quired treat­ments for pa­tients.

How­ever, Se­naratne didn’t touch on the poli­cies for stor­ing and reg­u­lat­ing e-health records that need be un­der­taken to pro­tect the pri­vate data be­ing ex­posed to out­side par­ties.

He em­pha­sised that the gov­ern­ment has taken sev­eral mea­sures in mod­ernising the coun­try’s pub­lic health sec­tor by em­brac­ing dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion since he took of­fice as the Health Min­is­ter, aim­ing to en­hance the qual­ity of ser­vices and to cut down the lengthy time pe­riod spent at pub­lic hos­pi­tals.

He noted that more than 500 hos­pi­tals in the coun­try have been dig­i­talised from Colombo to Kebithigollewa.

In terms of procur­ing med­i­cal de­vices and equip­ment, he stressed that he only granted per­mis­sion to pro­cure dig­i­tal med­i­cal de­vices and equip­ment.

He pointed out that the hos­pi­tals were able to of­fer ef­fi­cient ser­vices and cut their costs by shift­ing from ana­logue de­vices to dig­i­tal. He il­lus­trated that the dig­i­tal MRI ma­chine, which was in­tro­duced to the Ac­ci­dent Ward of the Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal led to cut down the wait­ing time for MRI scan from 57 min­utes to three min­utes, while the cost of Rs.12,900 of each MRI film was also saved. The min­is­ter also an­nounced that a new pro­gramme would be launched with the as­sis­tance of the Bel­gian gov­ern­ment to con­vert all ana­logue X-ray ma­chines to dig­i­tal in pub­lic hos­pi­tals.

Speak­ing of medicine short­ages at pub­lic hos­pi­tals, he claimed that dur­ing the pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, not a sin­gle medicine was brought into the coun­try, de­spite the re­peated warn­ings of health of­fi­cials on a po­ten­tial cri­sis in pub­lic hos­pi­tals, due to the short­age of medicines.

“De­spite the warn­ings of of­fi­cials at the min­istry, the au­thor­i­ties hadn’t taken any mea­sures to ad­dress the loom­ing short­age of medicines. When I re­took the of­fice as the min­is­ter, the first thing I did was to take mea­sures to bring in can­cer medicines by air,” he said.

He said that the po­ten­tial cri­sis was averted due to the soft­ware de­vel­oped by the ICTA to mon­i­tor the medicine stocks at pub­lic hos­pi­tals.

“If the soft­ware wasn’t there, it would have taken sev­eral months to cal­cu­late the short­age of medicines in pub­lic hos­pi­tals,” he added. Se­naratne also re­marked that it would at least take an­other two years for the health in­dus­try to re­cover from the ad­verse im­pacts cre­ated by the two months of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

Ra­jitha Se­naratne

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