TAKING CUE from the success of mohalla clinics in Delhi, the brainchild of the AAP government, the BJP-led government has approved at least 60 such clinics for slums across the state, where private doctors will be roped in to provide healthcare facilities to the urban poor.
The proposal has been approved under the National Health Mission (NHM), at an initial budget of Rs 3 crore, senior health officials told The Indian Express.
They added that while the state received nod for the project several days ago, the Centre approved the ‘project implementation plan’ on Monday.
Each of the 60 clinics, named ‘Aapla Dawa Khana’, will cater to a slum population of 5,000.
“The clinics will start in urban slums where there are no primary health centres and the closest hospital is several kilometres away,” said a senior official. Nashik, Pune and Thane with large slum pockets are expected to benefit.
Private doctors will be roped in for the clinics and paid around Rs 40 per patient. The government also hopes to lure MBBS graduates to the clinics.
“We will be tweaking the mohalla clinics a bit,” said Dr Pradeep Vyas, Principal Secretary (Health).
A concept of vending machines for medicine may also be launched in these clinics. Dr Anup Kumar Yadava, NHM Director, said a computerised system will be used for disbursing drugs.
“The drugs can be taken out of a machine. We will also maintain data on all patients through this system.”
The AAP government in Delhi had started mohalla clinics in 2015. Mohalla clinics are primary health centres that provide basic diagnostic, consultation and essential medicines free of cost. To reduce burden on tertiary-level hospitals and provide ease of access for primary treatment, one can undergo 212 tests for free at these clinics.
In his visit to Mumbai in December, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said the AAP government planned to increase the mohalla clinics in the capital from the current 189 to 1,000 and a budget of Rs 250 crore has been pumped into the project last year. Jain had also criticised Maharashtra government for its “lack of intention” in reducing public healthcare cost.
The state government is banking on the success of similar clinics launched by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC).
In its latest budget, TMC had announced 50 mohalla clinics. Two clinics that started operating on February 20 in Kalwa and Wagle Estate are already attracting 120 patients daily.
Over 110 prescription drugs and 200 diagnostic tests are offered free of cost at these two clinics.
Dr Ramrao Kendre, head of TMC’s public health department, said: “We will outsource all these private clinics. They will be set up in small urban pockets for a population of 30,000 to 35,000. Medicine will be available free of cost and investigations will be conducted at subsidised rates.”
In Mumbai, the AAP had started the mohalla clinic on a pilot basis in Kurla. Every day, 30 to 40 patients are treated by specialists in orthopaedic, paediatrics, physiotherapy, spine and cardiology.
State AAP leader Dr Santosh Karmarkar said Maharashtra required 3,000 such mohalla clinics to bridge the gap in primary healthcare.