Connecting the dots: Kerala's use of digital technology during the COVID-19 response

Osama Ummer, Kerry Scott, Diwakar Mohan, Arpita Chakraborty, Amnesty Elizabeth Lefevre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital tools are increasingly being applied to support the response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in India and elsewhere globally. This article draws from global frameworks to explore the use of digital tools in the state of Kerala across the domains of communication, surveillance, clinical management, non-clinical support, and core health system readiness and response. Kerala is considered India's first digital state, with the highest percentage of households with computers (24%) and the internet (51%) in India, 95% mobile phone penetration, 62% smartphone penetration and 75% digital literacy. Kerala has long been a model for the early adoption of digital technology for education and health. As part of the pandemic response, technology has been used across private and public sectors, including law enforcement, health, information technology and education. Efforts have sought to ensure timely access to health information, facilitate access to entitlements, monitor those under quarantine and track contacts, and provide healthcare services though telemedicine. Kerala's COVID-19 pandemic response showcases the diverse potential of digital technology, the importance of building on a strong health system foundation, the value of collaboration, and the ongoing challenges of data privacy and equity in digital access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere005355
JournalBMJ Global Health
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021


  • COVID-19
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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