Union Health Secretary and Google Chief Discuss AI and Digital Health at World Health Assembly

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GG News Bureau
Geneva, 29th May. 
Apurva Chandra, Union Health Secretary, leading the Indian delegation, met with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer at Google, on the sidelines of the 77th World Health Assembly of WHO in Geneva. The meeting aimed to discuss the ongoing collaboration between Google Research and the Union Health Ministry to make digital health tools more accessible.

At the meeting’s outset, the Union Health Secretary praised the current engagement between the two organizations. He emphasized the need for further collaboration in areas such as Artificial Intelligence and sought Google’s support for the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). Specifically, he highlighted the development of more digital health tools like Automated Retinal Disease Assessment (ARDA) and the importance of making them ABDM-enabled. He also called for efforts to spread awareness about ABDM among students and startups.

The Google team underscored their ongoing engagement with India’s National Health Authority (NHA). Since 2022, Google Research has collaborated with NHA, including listing Google’s AI model for diabetic retinopathy screening (ARDA) on ABDM’s website under the Open Call for Expression of Interest (EoI) for creating a digital health ecosystem in India. Additionally, Google Research and NHA are working on developing an open-sourced ABDM wrapper to simplify the ABDM sandbox integration process.

The meeting was attended by Ms. Hekali Zhimomi, Additional Secretary, Union Health Ministry; Ms. Aradhana Patnaik, Additional Secretary and Managing Director (NHM), Union Health Ministry; and Dr. Basant Garg, Additional CEO, National Health Authority.

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