Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma deleted a tweet in which he revealed the names of patients who were seeking treatment for various ailments under Ayushman Bharat scheme following criticism.
Sarma had on 24 September tweeted a list of 21 beneficiaries of the scheme in his excitement to show how the mega heathcare yojana of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being utilised within 24 hours of its launch. His tweet a day after the Prime Minister launched the scheme in a public meeting in Jharkhand’s Ranchi.
“It’s heartening to share that within 24 hours of its launch we have given benefits of #AyushmanBharat to 21 needy patients across different hospitals in #Assam. Likely rise in numbers from Tuesday,” read the tweet which contained a list revealing the names of the beneficiaries, the hospitals they were admitted to and the ailment for which they were undergoing treatment.
In the tweet, Sarma tagged the Prime Minister, Union Health Minister JP Nadda and the official twitter handle of National Health Agency.
Many on Twitter criticised the minister for breaching the privacy of patients by posting their names and the disease they are suffering from.
Sadly there seems to be a class bias in tweets that given out privileged patient info as if it doesn’t matter because these are nameless, faceless poor people. Do we know what @manoharparrikar is suffering from officially? https://t.co/K0KHb16Uid
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) September 25, 2018
Namasthe Himanta ji! People who get benefited from the #AyushmanBharat still want their privacy. Making their medical conditions known to whole world will surely won’t make them better. You can share the statistics but not the actual names. Hope you understand this. Thanks !
— Rashmi (@rashmee_rao) September 24, 2018
This is absolutely ridiculous! How can you share private personal health information like that! If you were in Europe or US you would have been saying goodbye to your chair and probed!
— Asif (@Asif_DrMed) September 24, 2018
Pls remove personal names …
— -PSD- (@Psd_Pkd) September 24, 2018
Wtf sir?? U can atleast blur d diseases
— Hiren Deka (@iam_hirenDeka) September 24, 2018
Though Sarma deleted the tweet, he probably forgot to remove a retweet of a post by a news organisation containing a screenshot of another tweet posted by him. The screenshot of that tweet is reproduced below with names of patients, their districts and some diseases which could have revealed the identity of patients blurred out.
On 25 September Sarma posted a new list of beneficiaries but this time only the hospital name, hospital district and the type of illness were mentioned.
Happy to inform that within 3 days of #PMJAY launch by PM Sri @narendramodi on Sept 23, 2018 beneficiaries had begun to access benefits across different hospitals in #Assam. #AssamAyushman @AyushmanNHA @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/lxf5z5hHcC
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) September 25, 2018
The Assam minister is not the only one who committed the blunder.
According to The New Indian Express, a senior PMJAY official in Ranchi had shared the details of medical condition of four patients admitted at Ranchi Institute of Medical Sciences under the scheme. Though the official insisted that he had taken “consent”, the patients reportedly refuted his claim.