The only new face in the Dikshit cabinet, Kiran Walia brings with her the experience of working closely with women and child issues. She was the chairperson of Delhi Women's Commission.
She replaces Yoganand Shastri as the health minister. Aware of the crumbling state of health infrastructure in the Capital, Walia assures that there will be a positive visible change in the coming years, in a talk with Jaya Shroff Bhalla.
Government health set-up in Delhi is in a dismal state. What according to you needs immediate attention?
Quality will be my prime focus. While there is basic health infrastructure, the immediate need is to revamp it. There is a need for cleanliness in wards and surroundings, safe drinking water and hygienic toilets. Health is a basic right of every individual and as responsible leaders it is our duty to provide right to life and healthy living.
Would you agree that health has never been a priority with the government?
I wouldn’t completely agree with it. The government has launched several initiatives like the Mamta Scheme for institutionalising deliveries processes, especially among poor women, and also the ASHA initiative to educate women on health issues. I think close monitoring is needed for visible results.
Manpower crunch is a major problem across hospitals in Delhi. Do you have a deadline to fill up vacancies?
I am aware of the existing staff crunch. It is early to give a deadline but we do intend to fill in all vacancies as early as possible.
Most private hospitals built on land given by the government are not giving free treatment to poor patients despite High Court order. Are you planning to do something about it?
Yes, we will be taking strict action against the erring hospitals. We are in a legal battle with Apollo Hospital and winning the case would be a befitting response to their noncompliance.
Dwarka hospital project is lying in limbo for several years now? Can we expect the hospital to come up during your tenure?
The foundation stones have been laid, but work is still to start. Hopefully the project will take off soon.