AAP extends timings of mohalla clinics
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the Capital is extending the timings of some of its mohalla or neighbourhood clinics, and in effect starting a second shift in them to cater to excessive demand.
From next month, at least 40 mohalla clinics across Delhi, each seeing visits by at least 150 patients a day will be open from 7am to 7pm, six days a week, according to a senior official from Delhi government’s health department who asked not to be identified.
Mohalla clinics offer basic out-patient treatment for fever, pain and other common ailments between 8am and 1pm six days a week. In 2018, the 189 mohalla clinics across the city treated 5.6 million patients.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has identified clinics that treat over 150 patients every day, most of which are in Shahdara, West and the North-west district (where population density is high); these areas already have a high number of mohalla clinics.
“On average, mohalla clinics get around 100 patients a day, but some clinics treat 150 people, which puts too much pressure on the doctor. To decongest such clinics, the government has decided to extend the OPD (out-patient department) timings in the evening. It will also be helpful for people who work during the day,” added the official.
The government could consider doing the same in other mohalla clinics “on a need basis,” this person added.
The evening clinics will start working in a month, according to officials.
“It will take some time to hire doctors and staff for the second shift and figure out the logistics. But it should get done within the month,” another official said on condition of anonymity.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said: “The timings are being extended in the mohalla clinics where there is a lot of rush. People want to avoid queueing up and might not go to the clinic if it is too crowded. With the evening OPDs, we are expecting that the rush will go down. This will happen very soon as there is no need for any additional infrastructure, etc.”
The health department is in the process of setting up another 146 mohalla clinics in portable cabins (aka portacabins) . The government plans to set up a total of 1,000 such clinics across the city – one every 5km .
“Around 700 more sites for the clinics had been identified but due issues such as underground sewage pipes or low hanging electricity connections, portacabins cannot be set up in many of these. So the government has decided to expand the project by renting premises; a two-room plus two bathroom facility that is accessible and available for less than 20,000 per month,” the official said.
There is a one-time cost of ₹20 lakh for the construction of the portacabin clinics.
To ensure uninterrupted services at the AAP government’s flagship mohalla clinics, the government is considering separately indenting all the medicines required. The mohalla clinics dispense 86 medicines for the most common or chronic conditions like fever, infection, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
“These medicines will be indented separately by the mohalla clinic department, which will monitor the use and requirement of all mohalla clinics on a daily basis and send the medicines when needed,” said another official from Delhi government’s health department.
The government is also planning to extend the services of mohalla clinics to include routine immunisation. “Currently, routine immunisation is carried out in our dispensaries and hospitals, however, mohalla clinics do not offer the services. A proposal for including it has been considered ,” the first official said.
Currently, only the first mohalla clinic started by the government in Peeragarhi, run by staff from the national health mission, offers these services.
“The three-tier system of health care — the primary health centre, the community health centres, and the district hospitals — were developed with the principle that preventive and promotive care for most people will be available closest to them. Unfortunately, due to gaps in the system, patients end up coming to the bigger hospitals. If enough mohalla clinics come up, especially with the increased timings, this problem will be addressed,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
“We already see patients who come in with their test reports from mohalla clinics. These clinics are also great for patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, they just need to monitor their sugar levels and take medicines regularly. They do not need to come to a hospital like Safdarjung and stand in long queues for it,” Dr Kishore added.
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