With a dip in temperature and crackdowns from the Delhi High Court over amenities in night shelters for the homeless, seven mobile health teams have been appointed by the Health department to provide services to the thousands who stay in shelters.
Officials said doctors from the mobile health scheme will be on rounds from 5 pm-11 pm in 183 night shelters, on designated days in different zones of the city.
Besides this, chief medical officers will conduct bi-weekly rounds of night shelters in their respective districts.
Senior officials in the Health department said the teams — which will include a doctor of medical officer rank, a pharmacist, an auxiliary nursing midwife and an attendant — will conduct detailed medical examinations of every inmate twice a week and maintain logs.
Additional Director of the mobile health scheme Dr K S Baghotia has been made incharge and will put together weekly medical reports.
“Besides conducting basic check-ups, these doctors will help us pre-empt diseases like bronchial infections, fever and even pneumonia which the homeless are susceptible to. The idea is to attend to as many frequently reported medical problems and resolve them in the shelters,” an official said.
The teams will also be carrying essential drugs including antibiotics, pain killers and cardiovascular drugs among others.
Officials said common ailments include open or infected wounds among inmates. In such cases, NGOs manning the shelters or Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) officials referred inmates to hospitals.
“Most of them do not reach any health facility. Open wounds lead to infection which can spread to others, so the mobile medical teams will attend to such problems,” Dr Baghotia said.
NGOs have also reported that women who go into labour in night shelters, have to be rushed to the nearest hospitals for delivery.
“The teams will refer inmates who need specialised care to hospitals, and will also follow up with them to ensure they get treatment,” an official said.
Special teams will be deputed to shelters for women and children to attend to common problems, besides maintaining logs of pregnant women and immunisation records of young children.
“Teams from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences will also conduct mental health checks-ups among inmates,” the official said.
Can underground parking areas be used as night shelters: HC
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked civic bodies whether underground parking spaces can be made available to the homeless as night shelters.
The bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw raised the query after it was informed by an NGO that temporary canvas tents were being put up by authorities and these could barely accommodate four persons.
“DDA, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd, MCD, NDMC, Cantonment Board and Land and Development Office are to inform, on the next date of hearing, whether any existing buildings can be made available temporarily for use as night shelters,” the court said.
“Such agencies should also report whether car/scooter parking space, particularly underground ones, can be made available to the homeless,” the court said.
The court fixed the matter for further hearing on December 12.
The court also directed the Deputy Director of DUSIB to personally check the state of blankets available at night shelters and to see if it provides adequate protection from the cold.
The court said DUSIB should verify whether blankets are sufficient and should also explore the possibility of public notices inviting donations.