Govt Created Unique Health IDs For Vaccinated Citizens: But No Permission Was Asked?
As of 26 May 2021, over 20 crore Indians have been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the latest data by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Seems like a significant number when the nation is battling a severe outbreak of the disease for the second time as the pandemic started last year.
Creation Of UHID With No Consent
The people who have already received their first dose of vaccination against Covid-19 are observing a Unique Health ID (UHID) or Health ID on their vaccine certificate.
It creates confusion since some have been aware of such an initiative by the government of India, while many are not clear on its purpose just yet.
The new form of identification is causing confusion and concern among citizens since they have seemingly no idea of how this ID was formed.
The same is pointed out in the increasing number of posts on social media platforms pointing out that there was no “consent” taken or information provided to the users before the generation of this UHID.
What Is a UHID?
Basically, the Unique Health ID comes as a part of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) initiative by the government of India.
Further, NDHM is aimed to enable a seamless integration of digital health infrastructure in the country, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In simple words, this initiative is a step towards digitising healthcare in India.
The NDHM plans to employ a series of digital systems across the healthcare infrastructure in the country to make it work.
Moreover, the system will collectively cover many facilities like healthcare facilities, workers, health records and, of course, patients and their medical histories.
The UHID is one such key system to enable NDHM.
These health IDs will help “standardise the process of identification of an individual across healthcare providers,” as per the information shared on the NDHM website.
In simple words, these health IDs will be the master key to all individuals’ health records from across locations and healthcare facilities.
How To Get An UHID?
So far the intended use of UHID is crystal clear, but how they are being generated for those being vaccinated is a question no one seems to have an answer to.
The several tweets on the issue have also revealed that almost none of those who got vaccinated had a pre-existing UHID.
If one tries to generate a health ID at the NDHM website, then it shows the message as –
“Currently, health IDs can be made only in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.”
This means that individuals can not generate these IDs as of now.
Hence, the conclusion is that the Covid-19 vaccination drive is the one clear way through which the health IDs are being generated as of now.
This argument is also in line with MoHFW FAQ page on its website, which states that any “Public Hospital, Community Health Centre, Health and Wellness Centre across India or any Healthcare provider who is in the National Health Infrastructure Registry” will be able to support users to obtain a Health ID.
Interestingly, most of these facilities have been converted into centres for vaccination in pandemic-hit India.
So, it is most likely that the health IDs are being generated at the vaccination centres using the available information of those getting vaccinated.
Why The Consent?
After that clarification, the question arises if the consent of users was taken at the time of issuance of this health ID?
The above-mentioned tweets claim that they were not informed of a UHID being generated for them at all.
For the generation of UHID, the information required is – “Name, Year of Birth, Gender, and Mobile Number or Email,” as per the MoHFW website.
Please note here that the website specifies that Aadhaar is NOT mandatory for registering for a health ID. It says that the “process of generation of Health ID has voluntary usage of Aadhaar” and shall require a “notification under Section 4 of Aadhaar Act.”
Consider a day to day scenario, if we go to any of the hospitals and get some services, they most often ask to fill up a form with the basic information as it was asked for the registration for the vaccine.
This information is used to create a unique account for that particular patient so that the patient can be identified and the necessary treatment would be given.
While creating this account, the hospital doesn’t ask for separate consent as it is part of the process and when the patient signs the form, it is considered as the consent for proceeding ahead.
Now when the same process is followed by the government for a national-level process, they obviously have to come up with a unique identification process like UHID.
This UHID can further help in the digitization of the health care services in the country.
If this is creating any kind of confusion then maybe a note at the bottom saying that it would result in the generation of UHID will definitely help people.
Is Aadhaar Cards Mandatory?
It has been observed recently that many vaccine centres mandated people to bring their Aadhaar cards at the time of their vaccination.
Surprisingly, the mandate was implied even on those who had originally registered on the CoWin portal using a different identification like PAN.
It seems that the Aadhaar card mandate was put up as a system-level requirement on the vaccination centre, making it compulsory for everyone at the centre to share Aadhaar card details.
A simple explanation from the government on these subjects will definitely help.