Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Assam health minister gets trolled for sharing Modicare beneficiaries’ details

Sarma tweeted a list of patients containing their names and the medical treatment they availed under Ayushman Bharat in Assam, sparking a controversy

New Delhi: Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was trolled on twitter on Tuesday after he shared medical information of Ayushman Bharat –Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) beneficiaries in his tweet.

In a bid to promote Ayushman Bharat scheme, the state health minister tweeted a list of patients containing their names and the medical treatment they availed under Ayushman Bharat in Assam. As there has been abuzz over right to privacy declared as fundamental right by the Supreme Court and proposed data protection law in India, the tweet sparked a controversy.

Sarma put the list of first beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat in Assam, the hospital they were admitted to, and the disease or medical condition they were suffering from. “It’s heartening to share that within 24 hours of its launch we have given benefits of #AyushmanBharat to 21 needy patients across different hospitals in #Assam. Likely rise in numbers from Tuesday," Sarma tweeted.

A trail of outraging tweets in reaction started on twitter saying that the State Health Minister had violated an individual’s right to privacy. “This is absolutely ridiculous! How can you share private personal health information like that! If you were in Europe or US you would have been saying goodbye to your chair and probed!", a person tweeted. Another twitter user, Vijaya Moorthy, tweeted, “Is this not violation of privacy to publish patient names with their medical issues and hospital on social media? Have they consented to this?"

Yet another uses, tweeted, “People who get benefited from the #AyushmanBharat still want their privacy. Making their medical conditions known to whole world will surely won’t make them better. You can share the statistics but not the actual names." “Expect you to know better. Posting a list like this in public is gross violation of those people’s privacy rights, another user tweeted.

The twitter debate happened amidst the strong prorogation of health data privacy by ministry of health and family welfare. The health ministry has recently planned to implement the charters of patients’ rights through State government that have been drawn up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). “All patients have a right to privacy, and doctors have a duty to hold information about their health condition and treatment plan in strict confidentiality, unless it is essential in specific circumstances to communicate such information in the interest of protecting other or due to public health considerations. All data concerning the patient should be kept under secured safe custody and insulated from data theft and leakage," the draft charters of patients’ rights state. Similarly, the National eHealth Authority (NeHA) also aims to enforce the laws and regulations relating to the privacy, confidentiality, and security of the patient’s health information and records

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched AB-PMJAY popularly known as ‘Modicare’ in Ranchi, Jharkahnd on Sunday. Billed as the “world’s largest government funded healthcare program, AB-PMJAY will target more than 50 crore beneficiaries. The scheme provides a cover of up to 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. Over 10.74 crore vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) will be eligible for these benefits. The scheme targets poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational category of urban workers’ families, 8.03 crore in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas, as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.

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