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Government Considering Of Issuing ‘Smart Cards’ For HIV/AIDS Patiens

The government is studying the feasibility of introducing health smart cards to ensure better monitoring and adherence to anti-retroviral treatment //r HIV/AIDS, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Panabaka Lakshmi said Wednesday.

"Feasibility studies are being conducted for implementing the health smart cards," the minister told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

A pilot study was initiated in the capital in March this year at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and the LRS Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases.

"After receiving the study reports the government will take a view on the introduction of the smart card under the HIV/AIDS Programme," the minister stated.

She said that the health smart card was designed to act as a portable medical record, ensuring data privacy and facilitating easy storage of data.

"It will also ensure better monitoring and adherence to anti-retroviral treatment (ART)."

The health smart card has been developed by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in consultation with the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) under the NGO component of the Global Fund.

A small-scale on-site feasibility study was conducted in June-August 2005 at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in the capital.

To enable more HIV-infected people to have access to treatment, the health ministry plans to add 46 new ART centres, taking their number to 100 by June, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss informed parliament.

Of the new centres to be opened by mid-June, five are planned in Maharashtra, eight each in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, two each in Manipur, Nagaland, Kerala, Punjab, Bihar and one each in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Assam, Orissa, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

"In these 100 centres an estimated 85,320 patients will be provided free treatment during the current financial year," said Ramadoss.

--Edited IANS
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