Delhi government announces 16 percent hike in health budget

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Focusing majorly on health, the Delhi government on Monday hiked its budgetary allocation for public health by Rs.472 crore over last year, and proposed a three-tier health system with opening of 1,000 mohalla (community) clinics and 150 polyclinics in various parts of the city.

Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Manish Sisodia, who proposed allocation of 16 percent of the total budget to the health sector, also announced 10,000 additional beds in the various city government hospitals over the next two years.

Sisodia announced a comprehensive Health Information Management System (HIMS), under which the government will provide health cards to all citizens, with a unique identifier.

In the budget, Sisodia proposed Rs.5,259 crore to strengthen the Public Health System. Last year’s budget allocation for health was Rs.4,787 crore.

Sisodia emphasised the need for better health infrastructure and management to cope with the huge pressure of patients.

“Over three crore people from Delhi and neighbouring states go for OPD consultations and over six lakh patients take admission across the Delhi hospitals. It is therefore quite important to ensure effective management of the existing health system,” Sisodia said.

He announced that all medicines and diagnostic tests have been made free of cost in all Delhi government hospitals with effect from March 1, 2016.

He hit out at other state governments and the previous Delhi government, saying that they had deliberately tried to jeopardise the public health sector in order to boost private health service providers for vested gains. He alleged that ministers owned hospitals and schools, which they promoted at the cost of public health and educational institutions.

Elaborating on his three-tier health system, which he called the ‘Indian model of Health’, Sisodia said that the West is citing the Delhi government’s mohalla clinic examples to boost their own public health services.

The Delhi government has one mohalla clinic that is being run a on pilot basis in North-West Delhi.

“The first tier would be mohalla (community) clinics to provide immediate remedy or primary care to the public within their locality. The mohalla clinics would have doctors and medicines but not experts. These single-doctor OPDs seek to address most of the common health care scenario where the experts are not needed,” Sisodia said.

He said that tenders had been rolled out for 1,000 mohalla clinics across Delhi while 100 would be opened immediately in rented buildings.

The second-tier would be polyclinics, where diagnostic test facilities with specialist doctors will be made available. However, admission facilities like hospitals will not be available.

“The polyclinics will be connected to the laboratory network throughout Delhi; 150 such polyclinics are planned, 29 have already started functioning,” Sisodia said.

He added that the first and second -tier of health services would help in reducing excessive crowds from the main hospitals as patients with minor health problems could go to community clinics or polyclinics.

The third tier, Sisodia announced, would be hospitals which are being re-modelled and new institutions are being established.

“The reforms would provide 10,000 additional beds in Delhi by next two years. Health card with unique identifier would be given to citizens. We are also mulling the possibility of connecting the health card system with the school systems in future,” Sisodia said.

Sisodia also proposed to expand the ambulance fleet with 100 basic and 10 advanced life support ambulances by July 2016.

To provide immediate medical help for rape victims, police and counselling service would be provided at ‘One Stop Centres’. He proposed two such centres at Rao Tula Ram Memorial Hospital and Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital. Five such centres are already functional.

The government has proposed an outlay of Rs.70 crore for lab diagnostics, Rs.10 crore for Tele Radiology and Rs.5 crore for CT/MRI facilities — on public-private-partnership basis.

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