Decentralisation of healthcare was one of the first promises made by the AAP government that was greeted with much fanfare. In July last year, within five months of coming to power, the first mohalla or neighbourhood clinic was inaugurated in Peeragarhi in northwest Delhi. The clinic, an air-conditioned porta cabin structure, had a single doctor to see patients, order basic investigation and provide limited medicines.
In order to decrease the crowd at government hospitals, this was to be the first of 1,000 such clinics that would form the first rung of the restructured government healthcare system.
On Sunday, as the government celebrates one year of being in power, the Peeragarhi mohalla clinic remains the only such clinic yet. The second rung, polyclinics with specialists from four to five disciplines, were planned from revamped dispensaries.
These clinics would be associated with Delhi government hospitals and doctors from these hospitals were to conduct OPDs by turns. But again after two clinics started last year, it is only on the government’s anniversary Sunday that another 20 of them are being inaugurated. The first one will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Seelampur in northeast Delhi.
According to the plan, the government decided to reduce a significant part of the crowd in hospitals by building and strengthening the first two rungs of the health system. As Kejriwal said during the inauguration of the mohalla clinic, people would only visit hospitals when they were extremely sick. There would be 150 polyclinics to support the mohalla clinics.
Asked about the delay in executing this new system, Health Minister Satyendar Jain Friday said the government was committed to making it a reality. “Any new system needs some time to take shape. We had to let the first mohalla clinic function for a few months before we started new ones,” said Jain.
He said after a trial run of the polyclinic at Kanti Nagar in east Delhi, the government would start 20 more clinics. “The feedback for polyclinics has been excellent. Majority of people using it are first-timers…,” said the minister.
Jain added that the 1,000 mohalla clinics and the 150 polyclinics would be in place ny the end of 2016.