Access for All: Possible through Scale up of Digital Healthcare Innovations and Increased Public and the Private Partnerships for the Primary Healthcare   

Soumitro Ghosh, CEO, WISH Foundation spoke at a high level inaugural panel at the 11th Manthan Asia Pacific Award and Summit for Digital Empowerment on 4th December 2014 in New Delhi. He highlighted the issues facing the delivery of primary health care including chronic shortages of doctors and trained personnel, policy framework which does not allow engagement of providers from alternative medicines, inadequate infrastructure and non availability of last mile services and lack of support and guidance for the frontline workers. These and many more factors have led to poor health outcome and high healthcare cost for poor.

He emphasized the huge potential of digital media and information technology, which offers intermediate solutions to address some of these gaps. He shared that there are successful examples of how both private and public sector have effectively used telemedicine in increasing access to rural and underserved communities. However these efforts are isolated and not coordinated and that these have remained at pilot stage.

Soumitro presented three critical elements to ensure access, entitlement and rights to the communities’, firstly scale up ideas and pilots which require financial, technical and capacity support to innovators, secondly it requires government’s proactivenes and willingness to open itself to new ideas and technologies and thirdly effective convergence of government and private sector partnerships, as this cannot be done alone.

Soumitro was joined at the panel by Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Dr. Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary (e-Gov), Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Sukumar Ranganathan, Editor, Mint, Dr. Anantha K. Duraiappah Director, MGIEP, UNESCO, Laurent Le Danois, Attaché, Development Cooperation, Delegation of European Union to India, Rajnesh Singh, Regional Bureau Director for Asia-Pacific Internet Society, Dave Stewart, Vice President, Public Interest Registry, and Chat Garcia Ramilo Deputy Director, APC, Manila. The panel was moderated by Osama Manzar Chairman, Founder Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation.