Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced on 8 July, that from now on patients would not have to queue up at government hospitals for free life-saving surgeries- they can now get it done for free at private hospitals, as reported by India Today.
A similar move was taken by the Delhi government on 3 March, 2017 that was supposed to be implemented but was not executed.
The new health scheme allows any patient to be referred to a private hospital if s/he has not been waiting for a month and has not been able to get a date for surgery from government hospitals. With an initiative like this, the Delhi government wants to ensure that no one is deprived of health care because of economic constraints.
Under the scheme, 48 private hospitals have been identified by the government in areas like that of Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad and Noida. Any patient can avail free treatment from these hospitals if referred by any of the 24 hospitals. The patients would also have the liberty to choose from which hospital s/he wants to go to.
The government has included 52 such expensive but life-saving surgeries that would come under the scheme- bypass, kidney failure, thyroid, prostate, etc.
The government has tied up with 21 private laboratories to provide 13 expensive medical tests including CT scan and MRI to anyone coming to Delhi public hospitals, without income restrictions.
The scheme says that there would be no need of any income certificate for the patients to avail this benefit. However, they would require a residence proof of Delhi.
The Kejriwal government is said to have allotted one-fourth of the budget to education and 14-18 percent to health- the current health scheme is also ‘one of its kind.’
Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Manish Sisodia promised full financial support for the scheme.
The AAP government has taken several initiatives to better the health care facilities in Delhi viz. ensuring free medicines in all public hospitals and allowing free medical tests at private diagnostic centres. In spite of several shortcomings, they have benefitted the commoners. The present scheme would third in the list of the measures taken by the government.
The announcement of the scheme has, however, invited a lot of criticism from BJP. It was said that these plans are only to divert attention from the cases of corruption that has taken place in the government.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said, “During the last three budget presentations, AAP government had claimed to increase 50% of the budget for the health services and also to provide all the medicines free of cost. This is besides making all its hospitals, super speciality hospitals like the AIIMS.”
Kejriwal, however, clarified that this scheme is a stop-gap measure while the government is working on improving the infrastructure of public hospitals.
The BJP has also pointed out that this plan has not been thought through as there are no clarifications about which hospital would be responsible for the care of patients in case of complications and otherwise. The AAP government has also not met its promises of coming up with 900 new primary health centres, additional 30,000 beds in the government hospitals including 4,000 beds for maternity centres and providing five beds of international standards per 1,000 people, the BJP claimed.
In spite of all these, it needs to be acknowledged that this move by the AAP government is worthy of appreciation.
The Logical Indian community appreciates this gesture, especially considering the enormous amount of people who face death in India, unable to afford expensive life-saving surgeries.