Ahead of Delhi Polls, Babarpur Residents Open Up on Mohalla Clinic
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Camera: Akanksha Kumar
It was Maisar’s second visit in the last eight days to the mohalla clinic in north east Delhi’s Babarpur area.
She had developed skin infection and was satisfied with the treatment administered at the mohalla clinic.
Unlike any private hospital, Maisar, aged 34, feels that doctors give due attention to a patient at mohalla clinics.
The Delhi government has opened 450 such mohalla clinics across the capital since 2015, which is 550 less than the initial target of 1000. A mohalla clinic is a primary health centre with one doctor and at least two pharmacists providing check-ups and medicines for free.
With AAP banking on its work done in the sectors of health and education ahead of Delhi Assembly elections, The Quint visited three mohalla clinics in Babarpur and Usmanpur localities in order to gauge the sentiment among voters.
A resident of Babarpur for the last 7-8 years, Maisar says, “She gets sukoon (relief) from the treatment at mohalla clinic.” Her husband works at a jeans manufacturing unit and she has four kids.
Hit by the impact of economic slowdown, she is critical about the recent policies that have impacted her husband’s work. “This GST has slowed down work for us,” she says.
Sitting on the bench outside the clinic was Ramshri who has been a resident of Babarpur for the last 20 years. “Teen baar aaye par dawai nahi mili (Have come here three times already but didn’t get the medicine)”, she says, anger and restlessness palpable in her tone.
Ramshri had fallen a month ago and had sustained a back injury. Since she had been experiencing excruciating back pain for quite some time, Ramshri decided to take advice from mohalla clinic and had come to pick the prescribed ointment which was not available that day.
At a stone’s throw away from Babarpur lies the Usmanpur locality where a local mohalla clinic became functional two months ago.
Few steps away from the mohalla clinic, a saffron board could be seen mounted on an electric pole. ‘Jai Shri Ram’, read the first line of board which seemed to be unclaimed as no outfit’s name was mentioned at the bottom.
‘Rashtrahit me vote kare (Vote in national interest)’, says the second line in the board, with a slightly larger font than the first line. Locals claimed that they didn’t know who had put the board there.
Babarpur was in news recently when the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while addressing a rally here, on 26 January said, “When you press the button on 8 February, do so with such anger that its current is felt at Shaheen Bagh.”
Repeated attempts by the ruling party, with senior leaders raking up the ongoing sit-in against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh, have been seen as an attempt to polarise the Delhi Assembly elections.
As Savita Gautam, a homemaker, comes out of the Usmanpur’s mohalla clinic with her husband, she explains how timely treatment helped in her fast recovery.
But Savita is not pleased with Kejriwal’s public stand on the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act. “His negative approach suggests that he is not standing with us,” she says while talking about the incumbent chief minister, an IITian turned politician.
The Quint’s final stop was the second mohalla clinic in Babarpur where Tasleema Begum had come to see the doctor regarding stones in her gall bladder. Other members in her extended family also rely on the mohalla clinic.
Since mohalla clinics have fixed timings, from 8 am to 2 pm, locals like Tasleema wish if emergency services could be available at these primary healthcare centres.
Critics, however, point out certain flaws in the functioning of mohalla clinics which have not done anything substantial in reducing the load of state-run government hospitals.
“The slip issued at mohalla clinics only mentions the name of medicine. The name of disease has not been mentioned. If the patient’s condition worsens and he is admitted to a hospital then what can he say about his condition only on the basis of prescribed medicines?”Shubham Singh, Activist, Praja Foundation
In September 2019, Delhi-based NGO Praja Foundation had filed RTIs seeking information regarding exact number of patients with diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, etc. In its reply, the government could facilitate the data for only three districts in Delhi while the data for remaining places was not available.
Reduction in waiting time and proximity to homes have been the USP of mohalla clinics. While locals in Babarpur and Usmanpur may have got a one-stop centre for their immediate health related problems, mohalla clinics have a long way to go when it comes to aiding Delhi’s health infrastructure.
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