The claims of an improved healthcare sector with mohalla clinics and better public hospitals in Delhi fell short of the mark as data revealed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government struggled to meet the demands for beds, doctors and equipment.
The Aam Aadmi Party had in its manifesto said it would give 30,000 more beds to the city after coming to power. Despite giving a major portion of its budget allocation to the health sector, the city government is offering just 11,353 beds to the national capital with close to three crore population.
As per the government data accessed and analysed by IANS, there were 10,959 sanctioned beds for the Delhi government-run hospitals in 2015, when the AAP came to power. "Of these, 9,523 beds were operational."
In 2018, the number increased to 11,353 sanctioned beds, while 10,520 were operational.
For major government hospitals, the occupancy rate was close to 150 percent on an average in 2018-19. This includes Lok Nayak Hospital, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial Hospital, Guru Gobind Singh Govt Hospital, Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital.
However, there are projects with the government in the pipeline to increase the number of beds to 11,423 by March 2020 by adding new beds in existing hospitals. The tenure of the Arvind Kejriwal government will end in February 2020.
"The total number of beds for Emergency is 372. The situation is critical in terms of beds in Emergency as well. There are at times two patients on the same bed in the Emergency," a doctor from a Delhi government hospital told IANS.
When contacted, the Directorate General Of Health Services (DGHS) informed that the government is working to increase the number of beds in Emergency and in general wards.
"We are working to increase the number of beds in Emergency to 500 by the year-end. Also, new hospitals are being constructed which will add about 5,000 beds in the city government hospitals. Hospitals with about 2,600 beds will be expected to be ready before March 2020," a DGHS official said.
The Delhi government has 440 ventilator beds available in its hospitals as of August, with 396 in working condition.
"There are 71 ventilators in Lok Nayak Hospitals which are being used by over 700 patients in 2018-19. Similarly, the G.B. Pant Hospital is equipped with 113 ventilators and have served 2,881 patients per month in 2018-19. The Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, with 85 ventilators had served 819 patients per month in 2018-19," the data says.
Although there are private and Central government-run hospitals in Delhi, a major portion of the population is depending on the city government for health facilities. Numerous city-government controlled hospitals are also catering to the population from the neighbouring states.
Apart from the Delhi Government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, New Delhi Municipal Council, Central government and other autonomous bodies and private nursing homes and hospitals are also serving the people.
Collectively, they are offering 57,194 beds, as per the Delhi government data.
The AAP manifesto said the party will ensure that Delhi conforms to the international norm of five beds for every 1,000 people. However, as of 2017, the beds per 1,000 population was 2.99, up from 2.51 in 2011 and 2.73 in 2015.
"The number of beds in the medical institutions operated by Central government, Delhi government and local bodies constituted 22.40 percent, 19.85 percent, 6.52 percent respectively and beds in private nursing homes, hospitals or voluntary organizations were recorded at 51.23 percent," the data made available by the Delhi government said.
The government has ensured that a major chunk of its budget goes to the health sector. In 2015-16, in the first Budget of the AAP, Rs 3,138 crore was kept for medicine and public health. It was 17 percent of the total Budget and the third sector with the highest allocation.
In 2016-17, it was increased to Rs 3,200 crore. Finance Minister Manish Sisodia proposed a total expenditure of Rs 5,736 crore on Health in 2017-18. In 2018-19, the funds were increased to Rs 6,729 crore. The Budget on health in 2019-20 was Rs 7,845 crore.
Not only the bed capacity and equipment but unavailability of doctors too has been an issue.
As of March, Delhi government-run hospitals were facing about 30 percent shortage of doctors.
"Out of the total sanctioned posts of 4,644 doctors, about 1,400 posts are vacant," an official of the Delhi Health Department told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
The DGHS said the functioning of the hospitals is being affected, however, the government is trying its best to utilise the available manpower.
"If we have more doctors, the work can be done in a better and effective way. The posts of regular doctors are filled up by the Government of India through UPSC and the procedure of recruitment of doctors is underway," the DGHS official said.
The procedure of appointing doctors, which is done through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), in the city government hospitals is complex and takes a lot of time. The doctors first have to clear the test conducted by the UPSC followed by an interview.
The AAP government had also promised that it will give at least 1,000 mohalla clinics to the city but after 4.5 years of rule, only 201 clinics were operational.However, Health Minister Satyender Jain said the Delhi government is confident of building 1,000 mohalla clinics by the end of 2019.