India is ready to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines when scientists give the go-ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day speech on Saturday, also launching a national project to roll out health identities for each citizen.
In annual celebrations held at the 17th-century Red Fort and scaled down due to the pandemic, Modi identified health and economic self-reliance as the key priorities for his government.
“Not one, not two, as many as three coronavirus vaccines are being tested in India,” he said from the ramparts of the red sandstone palace in the old quarters of Delhi, wearing a flowing orange and white turban and covering his mouth and nose with a scarf of the same colours whenever anyone came close to him at the ceremony.
“Along with mass-production, the roadmap for distribution of vaccine to every single Indian in the least possible time is also ready,” Modi said.Launching a National Digital Health Mission for the country of 1.3 billion, Modi said in his seventh Independence Day speech that records of every health test, disease, medication and other details will be kept under a health ID.
“Whether it is making a doctor’s appointment, depositing money or running around for documents in the hospital, the mission will help remove all such challenges,” he said.
Stating that the "completely technology-based" initiative would revolutionise the health sector, the Prime Minister explained that every Indian would get an ID card that would contain all relevant information about his/her medical conditions. This card could be used to access health services and medicines, he said.
"From today a new campaign is going to start in the country. It is the National Digital Health Mission, which will bring a new revolution in the health sector in India," the Prime Minister said.
"Every Indian will get a Health ID card. Every time you visit a doctor or a pharmacy, everything will be logged in this card. From the doctor's appointment to the medication, everything will be available in your health profile," he added.
Every test, disease and diagnosis, and medical reports along with medicines will be stored in every citizen's health ID. These health issues will be resolved through this National Digital Health Mission, Modi said while announcing the scheme.
The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), which comes under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY), is expected to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health services in the country, the government has said.
Under the scheme each patient will be given an ID card on which confidential medical data, such as prescriptions, diagnostic reports and discharge summaries, will be stored.
Patients will give their doctors, or health providers, one-time access to this data during visits to the hospital or for consultation. Amid fears over data confidentiality, the government said access to medical data will have to be given separately for each visit and that doctors could only access it for a limited time.
The NDHM will also allow patients to access health services remotely – through tele-consultation and e-pharmacies, as well as offer other health-related benefits.
The government was considering increasing the marriagable age of girls to postpone motherhood, the PM said.
To end malnutrition among girls, to assess what should be the age of marriage, we have set-up a committee,” the PM said.
As of now, while the legal age of marriage in India is 18 years for girls, it is 21 for boys. Anaemia and malnutrition are common afflictions in underage mothers and relate to marriages taking place in the 16-18 age group.
Modi also said it was important to raise India’s economic might to increase its international influence, emphasising the need to cut imports and increase exports of value-added products.
The prime minister reiterated plans to improve India’s infrastructure by spending more than 110 trillion ($1.47 trillion) rupees on around 7000 projects, saying it will help revive economic growth by creating jobs and boosting small businesses.
“The goal must no longer be just 'Make for India'. It should be 'Make for the World' the PM said, reminding that Indians had done all this while being battered by floods, cyclones and locust attacks. He said Covid-19 was a calamity but it had not succeeded in curbing the spirit of India: FDI flows grew 18 per cent over the last year.
He referred to all the reforms the government had done in the banking sector and said no Indian had remained untouched by Jan Dhan, health insurance and inclusive banking. The BHIM UPI app had seen transactions amounting to Rs 3 trillion just last month.
Modi said a new National Cyber Security strategy has been prepared in the country. India is alert, cautious and taking decisions to counter the security threats and is constantly developing new systems. The new cyber security policy will be introduced soon.
He also announced a plan to eradicate pollution from the cities on the occasion of Independence Day. He said that a special campaign with a holistic approach is also being undertaken to reduce pollution in 100 selected cities.