67th SKOCH Summit | Wednesday | 28 October 2020 | 0900-1800 hrs
Response to COVID
Expediting National Digital Health Mission
Learning from Best Practices
Governance Response to COVID
The primary role of SKOCH Summit is to act as a bridge between felt needs and policy making. Most conferences act like echo-chambers with all plurality of view being locked out. At SKOCH, we have specialised into negotiating with different view-points and bringing them to a common minimum agenda based on felt needs at the ground. This socio-economic dimension is critical for any development dialogue and we happen to be the oldest and perhaps only platform fulfilling this role. It is important to base decisions on learning from existing and past policies, interventions and their outcomes as received by the citizens. Equally important is prioritising and deciding between essentials and nice to haves. This then creates space for improvement, review or even re-design. Primary research, evaluation by citizens as well as experts and garnering global expertise then become hallmark of every Summit that returns actionable recommendations and feed them into the ongoing process of policy making, planning and development priorities.
The 67th SKOCH Summit has the following panels:
Panel 1: Response to COVID
SKOCH has been actively working in the area of policy for public health through field research, documenting best practices and bringing felt needs to the policy discourse. Given COVID and its implications, there is no bigger public policy challenge that we face. There are vast differences in the ways various countries are responding to the pandemic and within countries there are marked differences at the federal approaches and responses being given by the union and the states.
Given COVID and its multidimensional implications, a 360 degree response is required which focuses not only on contact tracing, testing, medical research and vaccinations, but also on expanding state capacity, economic health, health governance and policy, policing and last mile social interventions.
This panel seeks to explore what such a consolidated response should comprise and asks the following questions:
- What are the key challenges at the resource, institution and policy levels?
- How are last mile institutions operating and thriving in their response to COVID despite these challenges?
- What initiatives should be taken to strengthen state capacity and transform health governance for India’s response to COVID?
Panel 2: Expediting National Digital Health Mission
On the 15th of August 2020, from the ramparts of the Red Fort – Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a gamechanger initiative for the lives and health of every Indian citizen in the form of a National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), which seeks to make healthcare data of all citizens available to healthcare workers. This national repository would go a long way in making healthcare accessible and affordable.
The mission envisages providing a unique Health ID to all citizens which will be linked to their Patient Health Records (PHR). This unique 14-digit ID, which will also contain a QR Code will make it easier for each citizen to have access to their historical health data be it diagnostic or lab reports, prescriptions, discharge and procedural summaries to be easily accessed in one digital location to be able to provide quick and easy medical service facilities to all citizens.
This will not only empower citizens but also allow hospitals, doctors and insurance companies to easily access patient health records and drastically reduce costs and processing times for delivering their services. With the Arogya Setu app, the database would make it possible for easy tracking and tracing of any infection.
India will be the first country to implement a transformational change of this magnitude and deliver interoperability of health systems with healthcare service providers, hospitals, patients and medical/health insurance providers – government or private.
The key questions this panel seeks to address are as follows:
- Can the National Digital Health Mission be expedited and leveraged in time for COVID-19 vaccine delivery?
- Can the Digital ID envisioned under the National Digital Health Mission be used for effective vaccine delivery and treatment monitoring?
- Can the digital health ecosystem be leveraged for optimised, seamless and successful implementation
- What are the challenges that such a database faces and how would the state best address these issues?
Panel 3: Learning from Best Practices
This panel examines the micro-level interventions undertaken on the ground by public administrations in response to COVID19. Given the vast size of the country, a singular response to the pandemic could not be expected, but outcomes can be. There are beacons of hope that have innovated with dynamism responding to the local challenges in varying degrees by looking at the felt-needs of the people. Needless to say, these felt-needs of the people would vary greatly from the Nilgiris to Katni. The efforts may have been dissimilar but the objective has been the same and so has been the impact.
Irrespective of the headlines, India is fortunate to have well performing projects and interventions dispersed across the country on effective response to COVID. While expert studies are quick to question, or praise state level performance based on a limited set of parameters – we believe that it is too soon to pass such macro level judgements.
This panel looks at some well performing projects and micro-level interventions that all stakeholders have found to be an appropriate response to the specific problem at hand. Eventually, the density of such interventions within a state will determine how well the state has responded.
- Despite all odds, how have some of the project level interventions performed well?
- Are there any innovations or best practices that can be taken note of and replicated?
- How to ensure that champion-led initiatives now become systemic?
Panel 4: Governance Response to COVID
In a post COVID world, government and governance will both be defined by their speed of response, dynamism and adaptability. The pandemic has completely altered the way citizens and governance institutions interact with each other.
Digital transformation has been a key component of this post-pandemic change. Be it policing, health or social justice, the government has delivered a digital response. This panel seeks to explore the intricacies of this governance response to COVID.
The key questions this panel seeks to ask are as follows:
- How has governance adapted to the use of digital technologies during the COVID pandemic?
- How has the interaction of government and changed during the pandemic?
- How have governance institutions evolved in India to deliver an effective last mile response to this global challenge?