On the Road to Universal Health Coverage: Every Person Matters | Asian Development Bank

On the Road to Universal Health Coverage: Every Person Matters

Publication | April 2016
On the Road to Universal Health Coverage: Every Person Matters

Unique identifiers for every citizen are key to an effective and equitable health system.

In modern society, the possession of a personal official identification (ID) is critical to an individual’s access to government services, and social and economic programs. From voting to receipt of social benefits, the possession of an official ID determines whether or not an individual may fully exercise his or her rights as a citizen. For low- and middle-income countries, the widespread lack of such an ID is a significant stumbling block to economic growth and the development of solid social protection.

    Key Points

    • Possession of personal official identification is critical to an individual’s access to government services, and the exercise of his or her rights as a citizen.
    • The unique identification of patients is crucial to ensure that every person in a country has access to health care, and improves health outcomes by tracking an individual’s interactions at every point within the health system.
    • A recent situation analysis of available health identifiers in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar found significant fragmentation and a pressing need for harmonizing the multiple identifiers that now exist.
    • Low- and middle-income countries can begin to overcome the challenges of disparate identification mechanisms by creating a robust digital ID system that is interoperable and scalable, which can generate substantial savings for the government, citizens, and the private sector.
    • As personal information databases continue to migrate from paper to electronic records, the protection of individual privacy rights is all the more important as these databases are becoming more susceptible to hacking and misuse.
    • The experience of countries already using unique identifiers shows that health identification requires a conducive legal environment and works best under the administration of a single independent agency.
    • Countries must make smart ICT infrastructure investments, ensuring that disparate parts of the health system use standards-based interoperable software.