September 06, 2020

Postpone Finalisation of HDMP & NDMH

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, urged prime minister Narendra Modi to postpone the finalisation of the Health Data Management Policy (HDMP) and the National Digital Health Mission (NDMH) before parliament concludes its consideration on the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019.

While the government sought comments on the HDMP by September 3, Yechury urged the prime minister to postpone the date for final comments. In a letter addressed to the prime minister on August 31, he said that no policy may be finalised before a structured discussion on the serious implications contained in the draft are considered.

“Such a discussion becomes imperative given the fact that the HDMP is part of the NDHM that was announced by you on Independence Day 2020. Strangely, the government has sought comments on the HDMP in isolation and not the NDHM as a whole,” he wrote.

The NDHM proposes to collect sensitive personal data of all citizens which will then be made available to private insurance corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Yechury said that it is a serious breach of protection of personal data.

After considerable discussion in the country and in the parliament, the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (PDP Bill) was introduced, which is currently pending before parliament. The proposed HDMP makes no reference to this Bill that is pending for consideration of the parliament. In fact the proposed HDMP has many provisions that amount to a serious dilution of the essence of the Bill before parliament i.e., regarding governance of data protection.

Both the houses of parliament have been convened to meet on September 14. The parliament should discuss and consider the NDHM and the HDMP while it discusses the PDP Bill, 2019, he said and added that no such missions can be implemented unless the parliament and its structures like the standing committee consider these proposals in depth.