India Current Affairs - 2019
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The 71st World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland has adopted resolution on Digital Health. The resolution was initiated by India and was co-sponsored by 20 countries. The World Health Assembly is highest decision-making body of World Health Organization (WHO). Its 71st session was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.
Features of Resolution on Digital Health
It recognises huge potential of Digital health technology has for supporting Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improving accessibility, quality and affordability of health services.
It urges WHO member states to prioritise development and greater use of digital technologies in health sector as means for advancing global health agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.
It paves way for WHO to establish global strategy on digital health, identify priority areas and engage member states to optimise their health systems in sync with global digital health agenda.
It is first step towards mainstreaming digital interventions in health sector. It includes use modern advance technologies such as deep machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and other emerging disciplines like genomics.
It also asks member states to identify priority areas in which they will be benefitted from WHO assistance in digital health services and applications, data security, ethical and legal issues.
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is specialized agency of United Nations that acts as coordinating authority on international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is a member of UN Development Group (UNDP). It is headquartered at Geneva. WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.
India ranked 145th among 195 countries in terms of Healthcare access and quality (HAQ) index in the year 2016, behind its neighbours like China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. The index was released as part of Global Burden of Disease study released by Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and best known peer-reviewed general medical journal.
Healthcare access and quality (HAQ) Index
The study used index to measure quality and accessibility of healthcare, based on 32 causes of death which should be preventable with effective medical care. Each of 195 countries and territories assessed were given score between 0 (lowest)-100 (highest). For the first time, it also analysed healthcare access and quality between regions within seven countries: Brazil, China, India, England, Japan, Mexico, and US.
Top five countries with highest levels of healthcare access and quality in 2016 are Iceland (rank-1st, score-97.1 points), Norway (2nd, 96.6), Netherlands (3rd, 96.1), Luxembourg (4th, 96.0), and Finland and Australia (5th, each with 95.9).
The global average healthcare access and quality score in 2016 was 54.4, increasing from 42.4 points in 2000. The countries with lowest scores are Central African Republic (18.6), Somalia (19.0), Guinea-Bissau (23.4), Chad (25.4), and Afghanistan (25.9).
India’s Neighbours: India lags behind China (48th), Sri Lanka (71st), Bangladesh (133rd) and Bhutan (134th) in terms of levels of healthcare access and quality. But it is better than Nepal (149th), Pakistan (154th) and Afghanistan (191st).
India related Facts
India has seen improvements in healthcare access and quality since 1990. In 2016, India’s healthcare access and quality scored at 41.2 (up from 24.7 in 1990). India performed poorly in tackling cases of rheumatic heart diseases, Ischaemic heart diseases, stroke, tuberculosis, testicular cancer, colon cancer and chronic kidney disease among others. Though, India’s improvements on HAQ index has hastened from 2000 to 2016, but gap between country’s highest and lowest scores widened (23·4-point difference in 1990, and 30·8-point difference in 2016). Goa and Kerala have highest HAQ index scores in 2016, each exceeding 60 points, whereas Assam and Uttar Pradesh have lowest, each below 40.