Aadhaar Could Disrupt Organ Trafficking

A healthcare scandal in India involving the underground organ market is pushing some officials to consider how the country’s national ID program could be used to prevent such issues.

Aadhaar Could Disrupt Organ TraffickingThe incident occurred at Hiranandani Hospital in Maharashtra state. A kidney transplant was arranged between two individuals falsely posing as spouses using a forged marriage certificate. Police stopped the surgery before it could occur, having been tipped off, and the hospital’s CEO and medical superintendent were subsequently arrested for negligence. The arrests have led to protests from doctors arguing that it is not their responsibility to vet fraudulent documents.

The incident has led various transplant centers to consider how such issues can be resolved going forward, such as by cross-checking documents (such as marriage certificates) with the records of their issuing departments. Another option being explored is to see how Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID program, might be used for authentication. As The Hindu reports, the Union Health Ministry’s National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation is actively exploring the option, with one officer attesting that the agency is working with the National Informatics Centre “to see if a biometric-based system can be developed to verify the donor’s identity.”

The program already has well over a billion of India’s citizens registered, and is used in increasingly sensitive authentication applications, as in the case of the country’s emerging biometric ATMs. As real medical need vies against a strong black market for organ transplants, and the country’s doctors grow wary of legal liabilities, Aadhaar authentication could offer a substantial solution going forward.

Sources: The Hindu, The Times of India

August 17th, 2016 – by Alex Perala