Health min asks states to implement plan for regulating online health aggregators

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New Delhi, Jan 27 (PTI) The Union Health Ministry has asked all states and UTs to implement a time-bound action plan for regulating online health service aggregators who have neither provided any details of laboratories on behalf of which they are providing services, nor their registration status, including compliance to minimum standards.

The ministry has further advised that the Department of Home of the state concerned may also be requested to investigate such matters with an objective to prevent any kind of violation (civil or criminal/cyber or otherwise) of applicable laws.

In a letter written to all states and UTs on January 19, Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan referred to an August 2020 order by the Delhi High Court which directed the 'concerned authorities' to initiate action against any illegal online health service aggregators operating in Delhi in violation of the 'applicable laws', including the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulations) Act, 2010.

Bhushan said the laboratories and other clinical establishments, providing any type of medical services, are required to be registered either under the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulations) Act, 2010 (in those states/UTs where it is applicable) or under the state laws, as applicable. This ministry has also notified in gazette, the minimum standards for laboratory services vide notifications dated May 21, 2018, and the amendment notification dated February 14, 2020, the letter stated.

Certain online health service aggregators, operational in various parts of the country, may perhaps be neither providing any details of laboratories, on behalf of which, they are providing services, nor their registration status, including compliance to minimum standards, Bhushan said in the letter addressed to chief secretaries and administrators of all states and UTs. The details of qualified staff, as required for running the laboratory services, may also not be available on their online portals.

'If such instances are happening, then it is a matter of grave concern, as it affects the health and safety of citizens, who may obtain services from these online aggregators and may subsequently be aggrieved,' Bhushan said.

'Health being a state subject, and keeping in view the directions of the Hon'ble Court in the above said order, it is requested, that a time-bound action plan may be made and implemented, as per the applicable laws, for regulating such online health service aggregators, and the related service providers, operational in your state/UT. 'It is further advised that the Department of Home of the state concerned may also be requested to investigate such matters with an objective to prevent any kind of violation (civil or criminal/cyber or otherwise) of applicable laws. It is further requested that an Action Taken Report may be sent to this Department on a priority basis,' the letter said. PTI PLB AAR AAR