Mohalla Clinics get a pat from global health magazine
The Lancet, one of the oldest medical journals in the world and published in the UK, has praised the community health care initiative in Delhi. The flagship programme was launched in July 2015.
"The initiative is aimed at expanding the reach and range of health services in unserved and under served areas such as slums," the magazine said.
It noted that some other states in the country were studying the model and were keen to replicate it.
More than 100 Mohalla Clinics have been set up by the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi where patients, "in a unique model", avail of consultation, medicines and diagnostic tests free and under one roof.
The Clinics are open to people from all economic brackets.
But scaling up the programme in Delhi to open 1,000 clinics by the year-end "has been caught up in a political dispute", the magazine noted.
The article referred to alleged roadblocks created by the central government, controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition party in Delhi.
It said the initiative was launched as people were made to visit three different places for the same services.
At times, patients had to make more than one trip to existing state-run dispensaries and hospitals "where doctors and paramedics were also overworked and absenteeism was high.
"To circumvent such problems, compensation for doctors and staff in Mohalla Clinics is linked to the number of patients they see."
Delhi, with a population of some 16 million, has a fragmented health system run by multiple state and central government agencies and municipal corporations as well as private providers, the Lancet said.
The Delhi Government alone has 36 hospitals (10,000 beds), 185 dispensaries and dozens of other facilities, catering for an estimated 33 million outpatient visits every year.
"Although Mohalla Clinics have added another layer to the existing system, they offer key advantage," the magazine said.
The AAP government's plan to use parts of government school buildings had run into trouble.
"Without political consensus on the benefit of the clinics, efforts to improve health coverage in Delhi could well stall."