India upgrades disease surveillance platform

The platform will help the Indian government identify and address knowledge gaps that exist due to limited epidemiological analysis.
By Thiru Gunasegaran
04:17 AM

(Photo by shylendrahoode/Getty Images)

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare unveiled an upgraded version of its Integrated Health Information Platform last week; the system provides near-real time data to facilitate timely responses to disease outbreaks.

The IHIP will enable the consolidation of data from public and private sector facilities which include hospitals, laboratories, and research centres under a single operating platform. The platform will also observe 33 diseases, instead of the usual 18.


The World Health Organization stressed the importance of disease surveillance as an early warning system to identify public health emergencies. As this form of surveillance monitors and understands the epidemiology of a condition, it will aid in the formation of public health policies and strategies.

IHIP’s function in looking at the earliest signs of disease spreading in small villages in India will "immensely" help in preventing any potential outbreak or epidemic, said Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. "Accurate, reliable and timely information is crucial for a country such as India which has a population of 1.35 billion," he added.

Dr Roderico Ofrin, WHO representative to India, said the upgraded platform will also aid in disease prioritisation.


Following the Trump administration’s order to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in COVID-19 reporting, the need to automise data and minimise manual processes in pandemic surveillance was highlighted. According to the CDC, the eCR – a counterpart of the IHIP in the US – integrates information from various sources and systems which enables faster disease detection; facilitates collaboration among healthcare providers and public health authorities; and reduces labour by automising data.

However, the success of such technology in public health surveillance also depends on the quality of data shared among stakeholders, Vardhan pointed out.


"We have started a new chapter in India’s public health trajectory. India is the first country in the world to adopt such an advanced disease surveillance system," Vardhan claimed.

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