Healthcare sector neglected by Delhi Government for last 15 years

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Exposing former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s tall claims on developmental front, a Times of India report suggests that even after an expenditure of Rs 150 crores in the last 16 years, it could not complete two super-specialty hospitals in the national capital. 

It also highlights the lack of will power among our politicos to serve the people and to lift them out of the mire of poverty and deprivation. Even almost seven decades after independence, India is still seen as a land blighted by poor quality of public services such as health and education, which are considered as essential sectors for improving the country’s position on global human development index parameter.

The project for developing 650-bed Rajiv Gandhi Super-Speciality Hospital in east Delhi and Janakpuri Super-Speciality Hospital (300 bed) in west Delhi was started in 1998 by the then BJP Government. A year after, Sheila Dikshit-led Congress came to power in 1999.

Citing the two hospitals, the Congress Government always boasted in its budget speech till 2013 to have successfully worked for specialised healthcare facilities in Delhi, however, not even a single patient could be admitted for treatment to these two hospitals.

2.5 crore people, majority of whom are from low income groups, desperately need Government-run specialised health-care facilities and inordinate delay in opening the two hospitals is badly impacting the patients who are forced to go to the costly private hospitals.

Providing quality healthcare and education to its citizens is Government’s prime responsibility. For the majority of India’s population, having access to the two is a far-fetched dream.

Lets take a look at how the project for the two hospitals was messed up by the Government. According to the TOI report, DDA alloted land for the two hospitals in 1998 and the construction was completed after 10 years. Rest of the years were spent on deciding how to run them. Several different modes were considered like running them through public-private partnership model or involving a group of top health officials and prominent medical persons, but due to the Government’s lackadaisical attitude, nothing worked out.

In a bid to shift blame, AK Walia, who held Health portfolio between 1998-2003 and 2011-2013, holds trivial things like change of Ministers in Health department as a main reason behind the delay. Yoganand Shastri and Kiran Walia were in-charge of the Ministry in the intervening periods. Such silly excuses only prove that despite decimation of his party in the recent elections, Congress leaders are not ready to learn from their past mistakes.

Poor state of public healthcare in India is holding the country back from development. According to a report in Live Mint, India lags behind in development primarily due to poor state of healthcare in the country. It urgently needs to raise its spending on health. India is a land of 23 crore undernourished people, which accounts for more than 27 per cent of the undernourished population globally. Clearly, this group of population cannot contribute in the development of the nation. A large malnourished population has led the country to growing inequalities and low rates of poverty reduction.

The aforementioned data suggests that India needs swift initiative from both the Central as well as State Governments to improve the state of health of its people. But the sluggishness shown by the previous Delhi Government in building just two super-speciality hospitals in the national capital leaves much to be desired. Despite being world’s one of the fastest growing economy, the Central and State Government have been aloof to the need to provide quality healthcare facilities which is also clear from the fact that the Government’s spending on health is below 1 per cent of the GDP. It’s been long time since health experts have been suggesting the Government to raise the spending on health sector above 4 per cent.

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