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Delhi! How Is Your Health?

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Arvind Kejriwal’s Claims on the Health Care Front are Belied by Data

The Arvind Kejriwal government of Delhi has repeatedly touted its healthcare system as a model for the world to emulate. Significant amounts have been invested in its promotion by the government – money, which could have been spent on some welfare schemes. However, a new report by a think tank, Public Policy Research Centre (PPRC), has punctured the narrative of Delhi’s ‘world-famous’ healthcare system by exposing its reality.

In a fact check against the 2015 Delhi Assembly election manifesto of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, PPRC found that only 394 beds were added in Delhi government hospitals in the last 5 years against a promised 30,000 beds. Further, the government failed to deliver on its promise of centralizing pharmaceutical drug and procurement to end corruption. Further, there are less than 350 beds in the ICU wards as per an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court by the Delhi government even now.

Undermining Primary Healthcare

With respect to primary healthcare centres, the AAP government has in fact seen a decline. 91 dispensaries were closed down by 2017, and the government has focused entirely on Mohalla Clinics against the promised Primary Healthcare Centres. PPRC notes the problem with Mohalla Clinics, underlining that

…Mohalla Clinics are not a substitute, or match the standards of a Primary Healthcare Centre, rather they are more like a Health Sub- Centres, which cater to rural area. Mohalla clinics are more like Health Sub- Centres in an urban set up.

It is important to note that Mohalla Clinic type sub-centres are a step down from Primary Health Centres, because they do not have in-patient facilities, emergency services, facilities for institutional deliveries and essential newborn care.

Moreover, Praja Foundation’s has found several shortcomings in the Mohalla Clinic project. Data on Mohalla clinics, as Praja Foundation had found in its Status of Health in Delhi 2019 report, was not available with the Directorate of Health Services (DHS). Also, Mohalla clinics are not mandated to provide disease-wise data of patients to the Chief District Medical Officers – this is critical, as it reflects poor disease surveillance in the city, implying underreporting of actual cases.

Staff Shortage – No End In Sight

The story of woes does not end there. Staff shortage in acute in Delhi’s healthcare sector. Praja Foundation’s 2019 Report highlighted a 34% shortage of Medical staff and 29% shortage of para-medical staff as on 31st December, 2018, alongside a 66% shortage reported in post of lecturers in medical colleges. These parameters are poorer when compared to the municipal corporation run hospitals in Delhi. Instead of hiring doctors and nurses, the focus is on hiring administration staff and para-medical staff, which cannot substitute the latter in any possible manner.

Source: Praja Foundation’s State of Health in Delhi 2019

Poor Water Quality – Exposing The Lie On Water Quality

The AAP government had recently gotten into a war of words with Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on the quality of water supplied in Delhi. However, facts belie their belligerence – Praja Foundation’s Report clearly showed how cases of water borne diseases like diarrhoea and typhoid continue to remain stubbornly high in the city. In fact, there was an uptick again in the number of reported cases in Delhi between 2017-18 and 2018-19. It is pertinent to note that there were 36,426 water contamination complaints registered with Delhi Jal Board in 2018.

Source: Praja Foundation 2019

Drug Menace – No End In Sight

Another PPRC report highlights a worrying picture of Delhi’s youth and vulnerable children, who are today victims of drug abuse. As per statistics pulled out from the National Crime Records Bureau,

“The number of street children in Delhi estimated to be using a substance in 2017 is as follows – tobacco – 21,770, alcohol- 9,450, inhalants- 7,910, cannabis- 5,600, heroin- 840, opium- 420, pharmaceutical opioids -210 and sedatives – 210 street children.

Shockingly, 87 children died due to drug overdose (including Medicinal/Narcotics & Psychotropic Drugs) during 2015-2016.”

Ironically, a reply to an RTI filed with the Delhi government notes that no new de-addiction centre has been opened under the Delhi government, clearly betraying a lack of seriousness in dealing with the looming public health and law and order crisis on its part.

Clearly, the health of Delhi has come under a scanner.

  • Jitendra Desai

    Good reportage.Those not living in Delhi had read it mostly in media that these mohalla clinics were the game changers.