Converting existing Sewa Kendras that were established by previous state governments to facilitate the citizens in various services, into ‘Mohalla clinics’ following failed Delhi model by AAP government of Punjab has proved another gimmick that is aimed to gain cheap publicity. There is no use of these clinics for the people of Punjab at any level.
Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government has opened one such clinic in every assembly segment. How can it serve such a big population of the segment which already has so many government-run health centres, dispensaries and civil hospitals. A social media user terms it ‘Halqa clinic’, not ‘mohalla clinic’. Another user questions, “What this clinic will provide different or special that many existing health centres, dispensaries and civil hospitals are not providing?”
This project is drawing jibes. The people of Punjab are mocking the CM over his statement that “even Americans are thinking of adopting such model”.
Why is Punjab forced to adopt failed Delhi model? This is the question that is being asked by every wise Punjabi to the AAP and its patron Arvind Kejriwal, CM of Delhi. The measures that need to be taken to give facelift to the public health system of Punjab, are not being taken by the Mann government.
When Covid-19 outbreak was at its peak in India in 2021, Delhi public health system which is run by the AAP government, had totally collapsed. There was an acute shortage of oxygen in the Indian national capital at that time, which caused deaths of several patients in the hospitals.
The Delhi government on May 4 submitted a report before the Delhi High Court stating that the death of 21 patients at north Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital on April 23-24 was not due to lack of medical oxygen. 8 patients died of same reason at Batra hospital. These are the deaths that were reported. Many deaths caused by the oxygen shortage remained unreported. The AAP government could not ensure adequate supply of oxygen, basic facility that needs to be provided on top priority in a hospital.
Due to lack of medical facilities, patients were seen lying outside the hospitals. Number of beds was not enough for admission of the patients. Thanks to poor health system, Delhi turned out to be most vulnerable city during pandemic and plenty of deaths were witnessed there.
And Sikh community lost its precious leader Jarnail Singh, former MLA and prominent journalist, during pandemic in Delhi. Despite being a former MLA and leader of the AAP, he was not provided bed for Covid-19 treatment timely. He also tweeted that he needed a bed. This deteriorated his health condition and he could not survive causing the big lost to the Sikh community. This was the man who hurled show at the then Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in 2009 in protest against injustice to the Sikh nation in 1984 Sikh genocide cases.
Though public health system in Punjab also has shortcomings, but it was much better than that of Delhi during pandemic. This is the fact that many Covid-19 patients had to come to Punjab for treatment due to acute shortage of beds and oxygen.
Actually, circumstances of Punjab and Delhi are entirely different. Delhi is densely populated and does not have rural area. It is full of slums. Scores of poor and homeless people are seen sleeping on the footpath along the roads and streets of this metro city. They struggle a lot to win the bread. On the other hand, people of Punjab are much prosperous. Treatment of minor sicknesses is not an issue for them. Local private clinics, government health centers, village level dispensaries and Civil hospitals fulfill their needs. There is no need of any kind of model in Punjab that is being implemented in Delhi.
The only need being felt is to improve the system of existing public health institutions, eliminate the shortage of medical and paramedical staff, provide latest hitech machines and equipment needed for treatment and tighten noose around the private hospital so that they cannot overcharge from the patients and loot them.
An RTI activist Manik Goyal tweets, “On the one hand PR Sarkar of @BhagwantMann ji is wasting crores on Mohalla Clinics & propaganda of Delhi model, on the other hand Punjab govt hospitals are bereft of essential medicines. Aam Aadmi’s health & legacy health infra is being sacrificed at the altar of AAP’s promotion”.
The AAP will publish these ‘Mohalla clinics’ to garner support of voters in election bound states such as Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where this party is eyeing on forming the government by winning the elections. Some media reports also reveal that these clinics will be run with the funds of the Union Government of India under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).