New, Accessible Mohalla Clinics Aim To Fix Delhi’s Broken Healthcare

NEW DELHI: 65-year-old Pushpa is in pain as she enters the government-run clinic near her home. She hurt her foot while chopping wood and is close to tears. The physician examining her comforts her. “Please don’t cry mataji. You will get better. Have you checked your blood sugar? You have? Ok, let me check your blood pressure,” says Dr Alka Choudhary. She is like a family physician:  A polite doctor at a family friendly clinic within reach.

The clinic has brought basic health services to the doorstep of the 10,000 strong community at the relief camp and that is the model that the Delhi government is planning to replicate as it opens 100 such mohalla (neighbourhood) clinics this month.

The clinics will be the people’s first point of contact with the healthcare system and will help decongest hospitals. The first one was launched as a pilot project in July last year at the Punjabi relief camp in West Delhi’s Peeragarhi. Housed in a pre-fabricated cabin, the small and compact clinic cost Rs 20 lakh. It is open from 7 am to 7 pm and has two doctors on shift duty, a nurse, a pharmacist and a lab technician.

Durga has brought her child for his measles and DPT booster shots. “The hospital is too far, and it would take too much time. We would often wonder whether to go or not. But now, this clinic is close and convenient for us. We are regular with our checkups now,” she says.

“I have a small child. So, for common ailments like a cold or a cough I can immediately go and get the medicines,” says another resident, Seema Sharma.

The clinics offer free consultation, diagnostics, medicines, immunisation and family planning services.

Dr Choudhary explains, “Women who need to leave for work in the morning come here by 7:30 am to get their investigations done. Earlier pregnant women would be very scared and preferred going to quacks. We focused on these women and got a good response.”
The mohalla clinic is also making smart use of technology: There is a token vending machine to manage queues and a lab in a suitcase for basic diagnostic tests. Uday Pushwaha, the laboratory technician, said, “All the basic tests can be done here, such as lipid profile, kidney function test, liver function test, HBs-Ag, VDRL, blood group, haemoglobin, and pregnancy test.”

Another technological intervention is the Swasthya Slate – a tab-based medical device that can conduct a number of simple medical tests. Relevant information can be entered by the doctor, lab technician and pharmacist to ensure paperless coordination within the dispensary and with other hospitals using cloud computing. Though, The Washington Post reported the device is being used, NDTV found that the device is still a work in progress.

Dr Choudhary says, “We are not using this right now because it is still in development. So, on a daily basis we add a few things into it. It’s not being used in a full-fledged manner yet.”

“One of the issues with the tab is that it does not have the repeat option for patients’ follow up. We need an option for that. We need to be able to see previous investigations. We have asked them to add the feature or we end up going through the whole process again and again. As of now we are at 50-50 between using this tab and using paper. It will take time,” she adds.

According to Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, the clinic’s achievement is in strengthening the preventive and promotive aspects of healthcare. Particularly, for children. “We found that nearly 95 per cent of the patients were satisfied with their consultation at the mohalla clinic and didn’t have to be referred elsewhere. Only 5 to 10 per cent of the patients had to be referred to hospitals. This experiment has also shown how doctors can earn the respect of the community,” he says.

By the year end, the Delhi Government plans to set up a 1,000 mohalla clinics, each catering to a population of 10,000 in the city.  However, since setting up of porta cabins will take till December, 100 clinics will be set up in rented rooms within a month.

Dr Tarun Seem, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Government, says his department is working on identifying and resolving issues like how to replenish the pharmacy or monitor the work output of the doctors.

“In the next six months, we would have figured out a lot about the kind of problems faced while running these many retail OPDs. Monitoring, management and mentoring or even supervision becomes that much more complicated. We are proposing to use IT for that. The software and the tab are being finalised. The patients are going to be identified on the basis of a unique identifier, like the Aadhar number or telephone number or election card or something,” he says.

There are other issues that need attention: The new clinics would run for only one shift because there is a shortage of doctors. The Peeragarhi clinic has staff on deputation from the National Health Mission. The staff members are on contracts that pay them less than Delhi government employees. There is obviously dissatisfaction over it.

For the mohalla clinics to succeed, the Delhi Government will have to ensure doctors show up. Delhi already has an existing chain of 260 dispensaries under the Delhi Government which over the years, became unpopular among patients because of absenteeism among doctors and shortage of medicines.

16 COMMENTS

  1. When the nation gets someone who makes the right use of power and uses the intelligence to make resources available to the common man you know the country is on the right path. Small steps like these go a long way in the development and welfare of the citizens. What we also need is to currb the powers of the politicians to an extent where the power is not misused. The ministers or even the CMs, PM, President etc must live like common citizens without the limitless privileges they get. A few privileges should be good enough to enable them to work without any hindrances but not to the extent that they are getting now which attracts ruthless people on the street to vie for the seats where they get ready to bribe, cheat or even kill to win and get elected.

  2. How many such clinics open and targeted in next year??

    I read one article which states only one 1 is functional.

    Is this article publicity stunt.

  3. It’s heartwarming to see that someone (AAP) has finally started to do solid work for the welfare of a common person. I hope other governments take a cue from it. This a common sense approach to help people. Congratulations finally we have a government who is sincere and means well and serves the people who have put them in power.

  4. Make the difference by getting AAP in every Indian state and see the REAL DEVELOPMENT happening at the grass root level. I my opinion, getting smile on the faces of poor by serving them well is the real development. One of the reader (Dheeraj) rightly pointed that “vital role of primary healthcare; early detection, diagnosis of disease & prevention” is necessary. This will ease pressure on bigger hospitals which can then offer better focused service to citizens.
    I Love the way AAP is managing expectations of people. I am in for AAP anytime.

  5. The news article dated 19th march. So far only 5 people have commented. Had this been something against Kejriwal , comments would have crossed 1000 mark by now. Even the BJP loyalists refrained from taking a jibe.
    Nevertheless its not all about politics. I think Mohalla clinics can pay vital role primary healthcare, early detection, diagnosis of disease & prevention.
    Sincerely wish that the same model is replicated in other states as well at the earliest.

  6. Great Work….Keep it up…. keep it up Kejriwal and its govt….
    Good taught….good work …. which is showing on the ground and ppl reaping benefis…Kudos
    We need people like you ……………

  7. Keep up the real work. I am sure, this would get the required momentum. This Government has shifted our paradigm and certainly this will make a huge difference.

  8. this is what makes the difference between the educated people in the govt and uneducated tainted politicians.. on one hand delhi govt is doing great job whatever they could and on the other hand BJP is busy accusing others as anti nationals.. slogans.. love jihad.. cow politics.. dalit politics.. now its time for the people to decide if they want to stay in the same mess or try to change the system by supporting parties like AAP.. being a delhite.. i love the way AAP is working.. and also BJP is exposing itself by stopping AAP as they are unable to compete them on development agenda..

  9. Great news… should replicate in the whole contry… instead of bigger AIIMS… or give grants for setting up such clinics.. in partnership with the Doctors who are willing to take the step..

  10. Delhi and people of delhi is lucky to got this kind of government. Whole nation are required this kind of government who actually working in ground reality. Not other faku who said development but only spreading corruption. Allah please save our country from faku devil.

  11. Great documentary, we really need doctors like Dr Alka Choudhary who has dedicated life for uplifting the health of people who cannot afford it. I have seen her working in unhygienic conditions with a smile on her face. She must be awarde by Delhi Government so that others also get inspiration from her and work sincerely and honestly for the society. Great going Maam.

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