As she exits the Janta Clinic in Valmiki Colony, clutching a printed slip and with her 11-year-old son, Lucky, in tow, Sunita Hari is a happy woman.
“Earlier we had to go to private doctors who charged fees of at least Rs 100 apart from the cost of medicine. Here, we got the medicines for free and the doctor’s consultation for only a Rs 10 as the registration charge,” says Hari, who is a single mother of two children.
The clinic is a stone’s throw away from her house at the Valmiki Colony — a settlement with a large population from economically and socially backward sections — in Jaipur’s Malviya Nagar. Hari, who works as a sanitation worker with the Jaipur Municipal Corporation says that ever since the clinic — the first of its kind in Rajasthan — was inaugurated on December 18, she has been here several times, primarily for the treatment of her children who fell ill with common cold and seasonal diseases during the winter.
Announced by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in his first budget after the Congress formed the government in the state, the Janta Clinics, modelled on the lines of the Mohalla Clinics in Delhi, aim to cater primarily to the urban poor and reduce their out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare.
“We realised that especially in urban areas there is an undue load at the tertiary healthcare facilities for people who have only primary care problems. We studied the issue and realised that the out of pocket expenditure of the urban poor on health was the highest in any category, something which we felt was very counterintuitive. That is why we came up with the idea to cater to this demographic with Janta Clinics. We also felt that the clinics should have excellent hygienic conditions and the best available technology,” says Additional Chief Secretary, Medical and Health and Family Welfare Department, Rohit Kumar Singh.
Health department officials say that each Janta Clinic is aimed at catering to a population of 20,000 in urban areas with facilities such as vaccination, primary healthcare, free primary diagnosis tests and medicines.
According to Raja Chawla, the Additional Director, Health Department and State Nodal Officer for Janta Clinics, apart from the clinic in Valmiki Colony, work for 11 Janta Clinics in Jaipur has been completed and these are to be inaugurated soon.
“At present the Janta Clinic at Jaipur’s Valmiki Colony is functional and the other 11 clinics are scheduled to be inaugurated soon. We are hoping that all 12 clinics will be functional by the end of February. Areas for three other clinics have also been identified in Jodhpur. The Janta Clinics function at buildings which are donated or made under corporate social responsibility,” says Chawla.
Each Janta Clinic has nine personnel including one doctor, two general nurses and midwife (GNM), an auxiliary nurse and midwife (ANM), a pharmacist, three supporting staff and one staff member for cleaning.
Ever since the clinic in Valmiki Colony was inaugurated in December by Chief Minister Gehlot, it has seen a steady flow of patients every day.
“We are seeing a patient flow of at least 40-70 persons every day. In general, the patients who come have cases of seasonal diseases, respiratory problems, joint pains, diabetes and skin diseases. Most of the patients are from the economically backward background which is why the clinic is useful for them,” says doctor Rakesh Tuteja, a government doctor posted at the Janta Clinic in Valmiki Colony.
ACS Singh says that for the first time in Rajasthan, the system of digital prescription has been started at the Janta Clinic.
Under the system, the details and case history of a patient is entered in the mobile as he/she enters the clinic and this is later sent to a tablet, which has been given to the doctor. After checking the patient, the doctor writes the prescription digitally on the tablet which is then sent to another mobile kept with the pharmacist. After the free medicine is provided to the patients, they are given a printout with details of their diagnosis and medicines.
How Janata Clinics work
Each clinic has nine medical staff members, including a doctor, three nurses, and a pharmacist. The clinics follow a system of digital prescriptions. When a patient enters the clinic, her details are sent to the doctor’s tablet. The doctor types the prescription on the tablet, which then sends it to the mobile of the pharmacist. The patient gets her free medicines and a copy of her prescription on her way out.
With his gaze fixed on the digital screen showing the number of patients at the Janta Clinic in Valmiki Nagar, Karan Sonwal, who has come for the nebulisation of his nephew, says that the clinic has made their life easy.
“My nephew often has a cough and respiratory problems and earlier we had to take him to the Sawai Man Singh Hospital for nebulisation. The hospital is far from our home and going there was inconvenient for us. But now things have become easier with the Janta Clinic opening near our home,” says Sonwal, who works as cleaning staff at the SMS Hospital.
Singh says that the cost of setting up each Janta Clinic is Rs 20 lakh and the operating cost is Rs 25 lakh per year. Officials say that more donors and corporates have been coming forward to donate buildings where new clinics could be opened.
“We did a geographic information system (GIS) based analysis to identify the urban cluster and the places in Jaipur where the urban poor would benefit the most from the clinics. We now plan to open 1,000 Janta Clinics by next year across the state,” says Singh.
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