Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland on Friday praised the Aam Aadmi Party’s mohalla clinic (neighbourhood clinic) initiative. Ban and Brundtland visited the Peeragarhi Mohalla Clinic and a polyclinic in West Delhi’s Paschim Vihar along with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and state Health Minister Satyendra Jain.
Mohalla clinics comprise the first level of the Delhi government’s “three-tier public health road map” to make healthcare accessible to all and to reduce footfall at government hospitals. They offer primary healthcare such as basic consultations and medicines. The second tier consists of polyclinics offering specialist care and a wider spectrum of diagnostics, including X-Rays and ultrasound. Patients who need surgery or hospitalisation are referred to the final tier – government hospitals. At present, there are 189 mohalla clinics across the national Capital.
Ban said he was impressed with Kejriwal’s “strong engagement and vision” to provide primary healthcare services to the poor. “Mohalla clinic and polyclinic are good examples of it,” PTI quoted Ban as saying. “I hope there will be much more support and strong engagement at the Union government level also.”
He suggested India should allocate more money to the healthcare sector in the Union Budget. According to Ban, budgetary support for healthcare services should go up from 1% of the Gross Domestic Product to 2.5% by 2021.
Brundtland, who has also served as the director general of the World Health Organization, said mohalla clinics and polyclinics were doing “impressive work”. “In Delhi, with mohalla clinics and plans to develop them, you are approaching what needs to be done for all people, for every Indian and everyone in every country,” she told Kejriwal. “So, we are happy to see what is being done here in Delhi and what the government has been planning and implementing on the behalf of the people of this region. It needs to be done all over India.”
Without naming the Centre, Kejriwal told Ban and Brundtland about “several political obstructions and interventions” his government has faced while setting up these clinics. “In the last two-and-a-half years, we could not do any work due to several obstructions but after the Supreme Court judgement we are confident to set up a thousand mohalla clinics in next few months,” the chief minister added.
Ban and Brundtland are in India as part of a delegation from The Elders, a London-based organisation of independent global leaders who promote peace, justice and human rights.