UNAVAILABILITY OF “volunteer doctors” and less number of registrations by senior citizens has proven to be a roadblock for the Chandigarh Administration to start an initiative which was aimed at providing healthcare to elderly people at their doorsteps in the city. The initiative was inaugurated with much fanfare by local MP Kirron Kher on October 1.
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“Kushal Mitra (Doctor Apkey Dwaar)” service was launched by the Indian Red Cross Society in association with the UT Administration and other private medical organisations in October. Officials then had said the service for which doctors are “registered and reputed” will be available for all above 60 years and would start on November 1.
A Red Cross official told Chandigarh Newsline that at present, just 10 volunteer doctors were available. “If we start this service, we need doctors almost in every sector of the city. We had sent performa to the IMA about it, but not many doctors have shown their willingness to be part of it. We are waiting to get more doctors on board,” he said.
The official said that only 45 senior citizens in the city had registered, mostly from peripheral areas. UT Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi, who also heads the UT Red Cross, said since they didn’t have much registrations, the project was put on hold. “We want to reach more people in the city for this initiative. We will do aggressive campaigning for at least next two months before it is started,” he said, adding that the project had not been cancelled.
A call centre for service is already operational in Sector 19. Sources said that the operators receive very few calls about this service and most of the days, no one enquires about the service. “So far, those senior citizens who have made registrations are mostly from the peripheral areas of Chandigarh,” said an official.
In October, Red Cross had said that from November 1, availability of doctors would be from 8 am to 8 pm from Monday to Saturday and doctors would be available from the list of empanelled doctors. “The service will also provide laboratory tests, ECG, X-ray at nominal charges by availing services through toll-free helpline number: 1800-180-2067,” the officials had said.
Asked about the delay, city MP Kiron Kher said they “didn’t have time to push it properly the way it should be pushed” due to the MC elections. “I spoke to DC yesterday. He said that they will concentrate on this now,” she said. “People are to be made aware of the government scheme. We are now going to make people aware of this service.”