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From 2015-19 AAP Govt Commissioned No New Hospital in Delhi: WHY?

Additional beds in existing hospitals are makeshift arrangements. Secondary care hospitals are needed, say experts.

Updated
India
4 min read
From 2015-19 AAP Govt Commissioned No New Hospital in Delhi: WHY?
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FACT - Between April 2015 and March 2019 the Delhi government did NOT commission a single new hospital.

FACT - 16 hospitals were under construction, or had been launched, under the Delhi Government, in 2013. NONE are fully functional, even today, in 2021.

Delhi is among the worst hit by the second COVID wave. Shortage of oxygen, shortage of critical care and ICU beds have cost thousands of lives. Social media is flooded with desperate pleas for beds, medicines, oxygen cylinders. Crematoriums and burial grounds have run out of space.

The tragedy has been well documented.

It feels worse because Delhi, the National Capital, is said to have among the best medical facilities in India.

Perhaps it is now time to question that.

Yes, the surge in COVID cases in the second wave has been challenging, but has the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal done enough to build health infrastructure since it came to power in 2013.

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Right To Information (RTI) activist Tejpal Singh filed an RTI application in 2019 with the Delhi government asking,

“How many new hospitals were constructed between April 2015 till March 2019?”

In its RTI response, the Delhi government said,

“As per information available in Hospital cell of DGHS (Directorate General of Health Service), it is informed that no new hospital has been commissioned under Delhi government, during the period from April 2015 to March 2019.”

But the damning admission above is not all.

Data accessed by The Quint through Directorate of Health Service's Annual Report 2013-14 , and 2014-15 also reveals that at least 16 hospitals were under construction or had had their foundation laid, under the Delhi Government, in 2013.

NONE are fully functional, even today, in 2021.

Here are the names, their locations, and the number of beds that each hospital was planned to have:

  • 208 bed hospital at Madipur
  • 100 bed hospital at Sarita Vihar
  • 200 bed hospital at Ambedkar Nagar
  • 700 bed Indira Gandhi hospital at Dwarka
  • 200 bed hospital at Hastal, Vikaspuri
  • 200 bed hospital at Siraspur
  • 200 bed hospital at Jwalapuri
  • 200 bed hospital at Burari
  • 225 bed hospital at Chhattarpur
  • 100 bed hospital at Bindapur, Dwarka
  • Land for Medical College in Dwarka
  • 200 bed Deepchand Bandhu hospital at Kokiwala Bagh
  • 100 bed hospital at Nariana, Delhi
  • 100 bed hospital at Deendarpur
  • 200 bed hospital at Keshavpuram
  • Construction of office building for various offices under Health & Family Welfare at Raghubir Nagar, Delhi

These hospitals, if fully functional today, would have given Delhi 3,000 additional beds, that would have helped greatly in dealing with the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the on-going second wave.

In fact, of the 16 hospitals listed above, ONLY two hospitals - one in Burari and the other at Ambedkar Nagar, started functioning JUST as COVID-19 facilities in 2020. No other medical facilities are available at these hospitals.

The Quint has learnt that at Burari, the hospital building has been ready for almost four years. The question is, why hasn’t the Delhi government made the hospital functional so far? Or at the very least, why not since the pandemic started?

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Recent photograph of Indira Gandhi Hospital in Dwarka in Delhi.

(Image: The Quint)

Another RTI reply shows that Indira Gandhi Hospital at Dwarka, with a large 700 bed capacity, was supposed to be completed and functional by 2017. Yet again, the building is ready, but the hospital is not yet functional. The Delhi government plans to open a COVID centre here soon.

Delhi Govt Does Not Explain the Delay in Completing Projects

In its response, the Delhi government confirmed The Quint's story accepting that no new hospitals were commissioned by it in the past seven years.

The government also conceded that it had failed to make even one of the 16 under-construction hospitals since 2013, fully functional till date.

Just three have become COVID hospitals.

“Major expansion plan is under way to build 6 new hospitals (Siraspur, Madipur, Bindapur, Jawalapuri, Sarita Vihar, and Hastasal).”
A Delhi government spokesperson

The Delhi government also said:

  • (It plans to) add new blocks/capacity in 15 existing Delhi government hospitals, which will add an extra 11,904 additional beds within two years.
  • Since April 2015, the total number of beds in Delhi government hospitals have increased from 10,820 to 14,114.

But they did not explain why there has been a delay in completing under-construction hospital projects.

“The objective was to have well dispersed hospitals with beds, OPDs, more doctors and departments, and other facilities, so that different parts of Delhi would be covered. Thousands of people would have got beds, doctors, and treatment had these hospitals been functional.”
Sandeep Dikshit, Former Member of Parliament
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As per Delhi health department website, there are thirty seven government hospitals. But Delhi's hospitals do not cater only to the city’s population, but also to people from other States also come to the National Capital for better treatment.

Delhi's ever-growing population cannot afford to have a four year period where no new hospitals are commissioned. Nor can it afford a situation where 16 hospital projects that had either been launched, or were under construction, back in 2013, remain unfinished even in 2021.

“There should have been much more infrastructure, particularly in secondary healthcare. In the current pandemic situation we see that oxygen beds for patients are often sufficient for treatment. More functional hospitals could have provided that. While existing hospitals can add beds as a makeshift arrangement, they cannot hire doctors and nursing staff overnight.”
Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India

In an interview to the media, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal referred to a meeting with Delhi government and Central officials in which he was asked to share his experience in handling COVID-19 crisis.

Chahal pointed out to the Delhi government in the meeting that, “…no hospital should be forced to add beds. The SOS calls from hospitals are because they are forced to increase oxygenated beds overnight, which is not supplemented with oxygen storage.”

Delhi, which should have been the hub of India's health facilities, providing support to the other parts of the country, is instead reeling under the pandemic as the AAP government seemed to prioritise populist measures over ramping up existing health infrastructure.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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