Mohalla clinic is an idea whose time had come a long time ago. That it took so long to fructify is a different matter. Alas, far from creating hope and enthusiasm, it has been creating a full-scale controversy. The idea had its genesis in the AAP’s election manifesto which promised affordable medicare at people’s doorstep. In fulfi lment of the promise, the Delhi government has already set up 100 such clinics whose number would go up 10 times in a couple of years.
One attraction of the clinic is its location and the fact that the doctor would not only provide medical attention but also dispense medicines. A specially-manufactured medicinedispenser would have medicines routinely prescribed by the doctor. The clinic would stock other medicines too. The doctors there would diagnose and treat most of people’s common ailments. Cases which need more investigation would be referred to polyclinics. And in the case of serious patients, they would be referred to the government’s own speciality hospitals. One attraction of the system is that the services are free of cost. Reports suggest that the people have received the mohalla clinics very warmly for reasons like proximity, efficiency and cleanliness.
Anything successful or promising in India has also got to be controversial. That is what has happened to mohalla clinics too. The Congress has already accused the AAP of handing over the clinics to its favourites. The BJP is also not fond of the project and reports suggest it wants the Lieutenant-Governor to scuttle it. If the AAP government is using the scheme to subserve its political interest, it is certainly condemnable but any attempt to sabotage it at this juncture is also unacceptable. As it is, the Centre and state governments have been withdrawing themselves from public healthcare. The promises made in the past to increase the spending on public health to 4 per cent of the GDP have so far remained just empty rhetoric.