In an interview with HT, Dr NV Kamat, director, Health Services, Delhi Government, talks about the national capital's healthcare delivery system and the challenges that the government faces. Excerpts:
What are your views on the Delhi's healthcare delivery system?
Our health requirements and expectations both are increasing day by day due to urbanisation and modernisation. Apart from catering to its own population, Delhi also caters to patients from other states because of the good quality of our healthcare facilities. In fact, our government hospitals are providing services that are comparable to the private sector and at times even better.
What are the challenge areas that you think government needs to work upon?
More than 50% of the patients in our hospitals are from outside Delhi, and this increases the workload of our medical staff, and they are not able to give enough time to individual patients. Communicating with the patient is a big problem area, because of the lack of time. We have the best of operation theatres, surgeons and equipment at par with private hospitals, but because of the pressure our doctors are under, they are unable to spend enough time with a patient.
What according to you is the solution to this problem?
We are trying to reduce the burden on our main hospitals and doctors by increasing bed strength of our hospitals in the periphery and recruiting more doctors, nurses and paramedical staff for them. Delhi's bed strength has increased from 24,000 in 1996 to 44,300 at present. The bed-population ratio was less than 2 per 10,000 people, which is now 2.6 per 10,000 people and our target is to increase it to 3 per 10,000 people by 2017. Currently 19 hospital projects are in the pipeline.
How about strengthening primary healthcare?
We are focusing on primary healthcare in a big way as a significant number of people go to primary health centres. We have added 122 dispensaries in the past 15 years and have currently 256 dispensaries running all over Delhi. Four new dispensaries are in the stage of construction and construction of eight new dispensaries will start shortly.
Government hospitals are a boon for the poor, but there still is a section that cannot afford even the subsidized treatment.
Those below the poverty line are eligible for absolutely free treatment, but we are aware that there are many who may not be under BPL category but still cannot afford treatment. For such patients we have Delhi Arogya Kosh that started in 2011, and is an extension of Delhi Arogya Nidhi. There is a limit of upto Rs. 3 lakh income per year and a help of up to Rs. 5 lakh for treatment even in private hospitals.