Mohalla clinics will remain one of the prime focus areas for the AAP government this year with their numbers projected to rise manifold in 2019, even as the proposed health bill is likely to be presented in Delhi Cabinet this month.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had early December said that for the Aam Aadmi Party government, health and education sectors were key areas, and work was underway to further enhance them.
"Mohalla clinics would remain the prime focus areas in the health sector and in 2019. We have set a target of increasing their number manifold. A flagship feature of the government's health policy, we want to serve more and more people as we expand our footprint," Delhi's Director General of Health Services, Kirti Bhushan, told PTI.
A mohalla clinic is a neighbourhood facility for providing free primary healthcare to the city's residents closer home. A typical mohalla clinic has a doctor, a midwife-cum-nurse, and an array of diagnostic services and essential medicines are provided free of cost to patients there.
"At present we have 189 mohalla clinics and our target is to take it to 500 in six months," Bhushan said.
In other focus area in 2019, the Delhi Health Bill is likely to be presented in the AAP cabinet in January as Health Minister Satyendar Jain has given nod to his department to finalise the bill.
The bill, once implemented, will help regulate clinical establishments and pathological laboratories and in the national capital.
The committee, in its draft, has also defined emergency care services for all hospitals and nursing homes.
Incidentally, the Delhi High Court recently had sought response of the Centre and the AAP government on a public interest litigation claiming that the law (Clinical Establishment Act, 2010) for registration and regulation of all clinical establishments has not been implemented in the city despite coming into force in 2012.
In other major developments in the health sector in the year gone by, the Delhi High Court had in October quashed the AAP government's circular on giving preferential treatment to city residents over non-residents at the GTB Hospital here.
The proposal to give preference to residents of Delhi at the GTB Hospital in east Delhi's Dilshad Garden was approved in August by the chief minister.
Under the pilot project, residents of Delhi get preference at registration counters, in-patient department, tests and medicine counter service and identification is done on the basis of voter identity card.
The AAP government, soon after the high court order had said that it would challenge the verdict in Supreme Court.
Death of 61 persons due to diphtheria also kept the health sector in the news in the year gone by.
As many as 30 deaths due to diphtheria had taken place in 2018 from January till September. Thirty infections, mostly of children aged 1-9 years, who belonged to western Uttar Pradesh, were reported in September at civic-run Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital at Kingsway Camp, and one death was reported at the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was recently informed by officials that the clearance for construction of 607 mohalla clinics has been given by the departments concerned.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia recently told PTI that in 2019, the Delhi government is set to "complete its target of setting up 1,000 mohalla clinics".
"Since our government has been formed in Delhi, we have been focusing on education and health sectors. We also have other health-related projects which will be executed this year," he said.
The first mohalla clinic was set up in Peeragarhi area. Former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and ex-Norwegian premier Gro Harlem Brundtland had in September visited the clinic at Peeragarhi and Moon had said he was "very much impressed with what I have seen".
There will be mohalla clinics in schools too and will be known as school clinics, where health facilities will be provided to the students and staff members.