India plans to expand its indigenous Covid-19 mobile app called CoWIN to a slew of other public health initiatives in a bid to create a national repository of medical data, plug gaps and smoothen people’s access to some emergency services.

The digital platform, which currently captures vaccination data of adult Indian citizens and helps schedule inoculation appointments, can be extended to record data on child immunization as well as blood banks, according to R. S. Sharma, chief executive officer of the National Health Authority. 

“Now that we have this platform we can actually re-purpose this for a number of different things,” said Sharma, main architect for the CoWIN app in an interview. It can also be linked to the government’s flagship public health insurance program, called Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission — the Authority is tasked with implementing this initiative — and pave way for unique health identification numbers, he said. 

The move comes after India managed to administer more than 1 billion Covid shots in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The re-purposed CoWin will likely help the central government monitor if there are lapses in public health care programs, especially those administered by a multitude of state governments and where data tends to be patchy. 

“Every vaccination for a child, whether done in a private hospital or a public hospital, will be recorded on this platform and so that we have a very clear record if a child has missed any vaccination dose,” Sharma said. “Blood donation can also be accelerated using this platform.”

The digital platform, which initially battled technical glitches, also faced concerns over privacy and growing surveillance in India. There is no data protection law in the country and a panel of lawmakers are scrutinizing a bill. Sharma assured that the CoWin data was “safe and secure.” 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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