Delhi govt allocates ₹50 crore in budget for free Covid jab in govt hospitals
Free vaccination against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for Delhi residents in government hospitals and the start of 100 new mahila mohalla clinics specialising in the treatment of women’s diseases were the key announcements in the health sector made by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in his budget speech on Tuesday.
Even as private hospitals have started charging ₹250 per dose for immunising those in the third priority group, people over the age of 60 and those between the ages of 45 and 59 with comorbidities, the minister said that the government will continue to provide free vaccination to all Delhi residents in its own hospitals. The government has allocated ₹50 crore for the same.
Although the Centre has said that the vaccines will be procured and made available for the three priority groups, healthcare workers, frontline workers, and the old and comorbid, there has been no decision on what will be done to immunise the others.
“Vaccines are available in private hospitals for ₹250, many people are wondering whether they should spend their earning for their ration or for vaccination... and in the 75th year of independence, nobody should think about that. Our government has decided that Delhi residents will continuously be provided vaccines for free in government hospitals,” said Sisodia in his budget speech.
Speaking about the management of Covid-19, the minister said that it was the vision of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to start the process of home isolation and open the country’s first plasma bank that helped manage the high number of cases even as the world’s best healthcare systems crumbled during the pandemic.
The government allocated ₹9,934 crore for the health sector, accounting for 14% of the total budget allocation.
The minister also announced that after the mohalla clinic programme, the government has taken another revolutionary step in starting mahila mohalla clinics from next year. There will be 100 such clinics established in the first phase, followed by at least one such clinic in each of the 272 wards of Delhi.
“We all know our mothers and sisters do not speak about their health issues openly. A woman from the middle class can go to a women’s specialist, but a woman from the lower middle class does not reach a gynaecologist. This is the reason many women live with disease thinking that it is nature. The Delhi government will take the responsibility to make a woman’s specialist and associated tests and medicine available within walking distance,” he said.
The government also allocated ₹1,293 crore for the expansion of health infrastructure – the construction of new hospitals in Jwalapur, Siraspur, Madipur, and Vikaspuri, and remodelling of 19 existing hospitals. This will add 14,000 beds to the over 12,000 beds currently in Delhi government hospitals.
The minister also said that the government already started two new hospitals – the one in Burari and the other in Ambedkar Nagar – during the pandemic for Covid-19 patients. The 1,241-bed Indira Gandhi hospital in Dwarka will also open up by next year, he said.