On healthcare,govt doesn’t have its finger on the pulse of voters

The denial of basic healthcare to residents will be a big issue in the Assembly elections.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Published: October 18, 2013 12:55:24 am

It is the largest colony in Asia,with over 350 residential societies,but for people in Dwarka,a single Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) dispensary with skeletal facilities is the only accessible health service.

In its first year in power in 1998,the Congress government had announced a super-specialty hospital here,but to date only the inauguration stone has been installed,which later crumbled and has now been reinstalled.

About 10 km from here,in Janakpuri,is another single government hospital — Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital,which is now grappling with creaking infrastructure and manpower shortage. Unlike the super-specialty hospital in Dwarka,another promised super-specialty hospital here barely manages to run an OPD in basic departments,just for a few hours every day.

For residents and now voters of Dwarka,health is high on the list of issues that will decide their votes in the coming elections.

Regimon C K,a resident of Sector 22 and vice-president of Dwarka Forum,which represents a network of RWAs in the area,said,“Till last year,for at least a 10-km radius,there was no hospital. Now,there is just a single private hospital (besides the government dispensary). The denial of basic healthcare to residents will be a big issue in the Assembly elections.”

He added that for any medical emergency,the golden hour was lost. “We can only pray to God that all goes well while we are forced to manoeuvre through heavy traffic to get out of Dwarka to find a hospital — either in West Delhi or Gurgaon,” Regimon said.

The last five years of the Congress government in Delhi have been replete with announcements to add new healthcare infrastructure across the city,but how far has the government managed to meet these promises?

At least 10 hospital projects are yet to take off. The hospital bed ratio in the capital is 2.55 beds per 1,000 people against WHO’s recommendation of five beds per 1,000 people.

Doubling and even tripling of beds during outbreaks like dengue and in “high-demand” departments like medicine,paediatrics and gynaecology are common in government hospitals in the capital.

The principal Opposition party terms healthcare one of the biggest “failures” of the state government. “The Congress government’s policies on healthcare in the last five years can,at best,be described as confused. For the most part of their tenure,they have struggled between deciding whether projects should be run by the state government or handled as public-private partnerships,or just be given away to the Central government. And by doing this,it failed to give shape to hospital projects announced by us in the 1990s,” former state Health Minister and BJP leader Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

AAP leader and candidate from Patparganj Manish Sisodia,too,criticised the government. “Health has become hell for people. Accessing healthcare,particularly in the government sector,is a nightmare for people because no new infrastructure has been added. By now,there should have been at least one hospital in every ward,” he said.

Admitting that the hospital project at Dwarka had been delayed,state Health Minister Dr A K Walia said,“After receiving all clearances,the Cabinet decided to run the project on a turnkey basis,delaying it,” he said.

Dr Walia claimed the state government was doing its best to meet the healthcare needs of people but civic corporations were creating hurdles.

“For several new hospital projects like in Ambedkar Nagar,Madipur and Burari,getting necessary clearances from the civic agencies was a long-drawn process with unnecessary hurdles being created. But we managed to get construction started in spite of that,” Walia said.

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