The Delhi government on Tuesday announced in its annual budget that the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to people free-of-cost at its hospitals in future phases of the inoculation drive too, and special women mohalla clinics will be opened across the city, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Independence Day. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio, while presenting a Rs 69,000-crore budget for year 2021-22, said Rs 9,934 crore has been allocated to the healthcare sector, which is about 14 per cent of the total budget.
He said 2020 was the year of the pandemic and hence of the healthcare sector too, and Delhi government in a way “unwittingly was preparing for the massive challenge” that was to come ahead. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government gave “home isolation and plasma bank system” as part of its response to the COVID-19 management.
“For people to get ‘freedom from COVID-19’, a person can go to a private hospital and pay Rs 250 and get a vaccine shot. But, there are many who everyday have to think, whether they should spend money to get ration for the family or arrange vaccine. And, in the 75th year of Independence, this question should not arise in the minds of citizens. So, we have decided that vaccines at our hospitals will continue to be given for free to people,” he said. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while replying to reporters on a query on vaccination said, a citizen can choose between a government school where education is free and a private school, similarly a person can choose to go to a government hospital for free services or a private hospital, the choice is theirs.
The minister said an outlay of Rs 50 crore has been made under the ‘Aam Aadmi Nishulk COVID Vaccine Yojana’. “Also, learning from our COVID-19 management, Rs 1,293 crore has been set aside for expansion of healthcare services, including opening new hospitals, renovating old ones and augmenting beds, and 14,000 more beds will be added after that,” he said. Sisodia in his speech said the Delhi government is carrying out vaccination for free at its hospitals, and the current capacity is to give shots to about 45,000 people a day and soon it will be augmented to 60,000 people a day.
He also announced that special women mohalla clinics will be opened across the city in the next financial year to offer free gynaecological and other medical care services to them within walking distance from their homes. “Our government has opened Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics to make healthcare and medicines for minor ailments accessible to people, for which otherwise they had to travel long distance or shell out large sums of money at a private clinic,” he said.
Sisodia said the government has proposed to start special mohalla clinic for women — ‘Mahila Mohalla Clinic’ — from next financial year and termed it a “revolutionary announcement”. “In the first phase, 100 ‘Mahila Mohalla Clinics’ are proposed to be established in different parts of Delhi, which will be progressively increased to at least one clinic in each ward. I understand that this is taken in the direction of keeping half of its population respectfully healthy, which will be the most important step so far in the history of 75 years of independent India. For a step such as this, what better time can there be, than the 75th anniversary of our independence,” he said in his speech.
The deputy chief minister said the step has been taken to make gynaecological and other medical care services free and accessible to women. “We also know that our mothers and sisters are not able to talk about their health issues openly (with the opposite gender). The Delhi government will now undertake the responsibility of having a ‘Mahila Mohalla Clinic’ within reach of every woman in Delhi so that services of a gynaecologist and related diagnostic tests, etc. are made available for free,” Sisodia said.
“Better health services and better treatment is the right of every citizen and in the 75th year of independence, we need to improve our health services so that every citizen can be confident about getting healthcare for their family,” he added. The Delhi government will also issue a health card to every citizen of Delhi, and an online Health Information Management System (HIMS) will be set up, he said. Also, the ‘Delhi ke Farishtey’ scheme has been “very successful” and it has helped in saving 10,600 lives. The scheme has been appreciated at national and international level, Sisodia said.
Under the scheme, if someone takes a road accident victim to a hospital, Rs 2,000 is given to that person as a reward, Sisodia said, adding that the government bears the treatment cost of the accident victim. Earlier, Sisodia said, as per the available data of the first Economic Survey of 1951 after independence, there were a total of 12 government hospitals and 17 dispensaries in Delhi at that time.
“At present there are 38 multi-specialty hospitals, 181 allopathic dispensaries, 496 Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics, 27 polyclinics, 60 seed primary health centres, 46 ayurvedic, 22 unani, 107 homeopathic dispensaries in Delhi, he said. There are 22 mobile health clinics covering 78 day-shelter homes and 311 night-shelter homes in Delhi, along with 61 school health clinics, providing preventive and curative health care services to the citizens of Delhi,” the deputy chief minister said.