Started inside a two-room portacabin in Peeragarhi in 2015, Delhi’s mohalla clinic initiative is set to be extended to several states, with Telangana, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir expressing interest in adopting the flagship project.
Inspired by the ambitious health scheme launched by the Aam Aadmi Party government, the Jharkhand government has announced that it will set up such clinics in urban slums. Sticking to the ‘mohalla clinic’ name, state authorities said they will provide free treatment and diagnostic services at the centres.
“Once the model code of conduct is over, work on implementing the project will begin. We have customised the project as per our city but the idea has been taken from Delhi. Most of the features in our clinics will be more or less similar to ones in Delhi,” Dr Nitin Madan Kulkarni, secretary, health and family welfare, Jharkhand, told The Indian Express.
Mohalla clinics are primary health centres that offer essential services, including medicines, diagnostics and consultation. There are 189 such clinics across the capital, with the AAP government hoping to take that number to 530 by the end of this year.
“Representatives from several states have visited a few clinics in Delhi and have initiated a discussion on adapting this model. They wanted to understand the basic idea behind setting up such clinics. Foreign delegates have also visited the centres in the last few months,” Shaleen Mitra, officer on special duty (OSD) to Health Minister Satyendar Jain, told The Indian Express.
Each mohalla clinic has a doctor, a technician for uploading patients’ Aadhaar card details and a lab assistant for collecting blood samples and disbursing medicines. The clinics run from 8 am to 2 pm and doctors are paid on the basis of the number of patients they treat — each doctor gets Rs 30 per patient per day. Around 100-200 patients visit these clinics on a daily basis. Each clinic is ideally supposed to cater to a 5-km radius with a population of 10,000-15,000, officials said.
In Jammu & Kashmir, state authorities hope to implement a similar model in densely populated slum areas. “We have health facilities for people in urban areas. But we are equally concerned with improving amenities for those residing in slums. Delhi’s concept of providing free-of-cost diagnosis and medical services is encouraging patients to visit these clinics. We may tweak the project depending on the need of our state,” Bhupendra Kumar, mission director, National Health Mission, Jammu & Kashmir, told The Indian Express.
Last year, former secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, in his visit to mohalla clinics and polyclinics in the capital, had praised the systematic way in which primary healthcare services were provided to the city’s poor. Former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who accompanied Ki-Moon during his visit, said she witnessed “impressive work” being done.
“Many officers wanted to understand the challenges we faced in setting up these centres. Issues such as finding land, seeking permission from civic bodies and hiring of medical staff were discussed in detail,” said Mitra, who is closely working on the project.
This year, the Delhi government has allocated Rs 375 crore for development of mohalla clinics and polyclinics. Over the next few years, it hopes to include several other critical facilities in the clinics.
“We are soon going to add antenatal tests and immunisation at all these clinics. Our model is incentive-based in which remuneration is given to doctors on a per-patient basis. The model is economically sound and offers basic services with no waiting period,” said Dr Shalley Kamra, state nodal officer for mohalla clinics, Delhi government.
At Peeragarhi, the mohalla clinic is not just providing treatment but also redefining the doctor-patient relationship.
“We have developed a personal relationship with patients as most of them live nearby. Recently, our team helped a woman who had come to us for treatment but was actually a victim of domestic violence,” said Dr Alka Chaudhary, the medical officer in charge.