Three days after taking charge, Delhi health minister Dr AK Walia tells HT how he plans to make the city healthier.
What are your priorities in your second stint as health minister?
We have land for 13 hospitals, and I will soon work out a schedule for their construction. I want to build a super-specialty hospital for lifestyle disorders. In the GTB hospital, I plan to create a centre dedicated to diabetes.
The existing dispensaries will be upgraded and new ones will be added. There will be an efficient biomedical
waste management system in place in all hospitals. More ambulances will be provided; the ambulance deal with Fortis is also being scrutinised.
Why has hospital infrastructure not improved despite increased budgetary allocation?
Building infrastructure takes time. In my last tenure, we had started in-patient facility in 12 hospitals. This time, I want to improve our blood banks. We’ll also formulate policies for the radiology and pathology departments in all the hospitals, which will also have the CT scan facility. We’ll also make MRI available in bigger hospitals. Special emphasis will be laid on strengthening mobile and school health schemes.
How will you ensure better coordination among agencies?
I’m used to coordinating with multiple agencies. For vector-borne disease control, we’ll ask the MCD and other civic agencies to fix area-wise responsibility.
Those not doing their work properly will be punished. There is also the problem of water-borne diseases. Many cases of jaundice, cholera, gastroenteritis and even hepatitis are coming in due to poor water supply. There could also be resource sharing between government and private blood banks.
What are your plans to deal with staff crunch in hospitals?
We’ve held discussions with Delhi Subordinate Services Board, which hires nursing staff, and asked them to go for ad-hoc recruitments if required. Medical superintendents can be given powers to recruit staff too. To generate nurses and paramedics, we might even start government-run courses or those in association with the private sector.
Strikes in government hospitals happen often, sometimes on issues as basic as non-availability of clean drinking water.
Between 1998 and 2003, when I was the health minister, there were no strikes in any hospital. I am always open to listening to the problems of the people.
Are you looking into the allegations of the procurement of health equipment at inflated prices during the CWG?
Only after a complaint is filed will I act on it. I plan to create an equipment procurement committee to evaluate whether the equipment is really required, if the hospital has enough space to maintain it and to decide on the appropriate price before making the purchase. Same will be true for purchasing drugs. In three to four weeks’ time, I will streamline the whole system.