The year began with a 45 per cent budget hike for the health sector and many promises. In an effort to reduce crowds at government hospitals and take healthcare to people’s doorsteps, its delivery model was redesigned. Plans for each step of the system — single-doctor neighbourhood clinics, polyclinics, secondary hospitals and tertiary hospitals — were announced.

However, at the end of the year, only one mohalla clinic and polyclinic is functional, while many of these plans have remained on paper.

With over 15,000 dengue cases this year, the capital suffered the worst outbreak of the viral disease in recent years.

The authorities were jolted into acknowledging the scale of the crisis when, in September, a couple in South Delhi committed suicide after their six-year-son died of dengue.

The boy had allegedly been denied admission by four private hospitals, which either didn’t have any beds left to accommodate him or adequate infrastructure to treat his deteriorating condition. After the tragic news made headlines, the government machinery went into overdrive, trying to create additional resources to deal with the crisis.

Nearly 1,000 beds were purchased within four days, disaster wards were opened up for dengue patients and private hospitals were directed to put additional beds in corridors and outside wards — wherever space could be created. Hospitals awaiting licences were authorised to start admitting only dengue patients.

For the first time, the government also put in place a mechanism to regulate charges of diagnostic tests in private laboratories. As swine flu cases from the earlier year’s winter trickled into 2015, and the dengue outbreak followed within months, the Delhi government directed private laboratories to charge not more than Rs 4,500 for swine flu tests and Rs 600 for dengue tests. The government also announced large-scale PPP projects for emergency care, including purchase and running of ambulances and modernisation of the CATS control room.

Source: January 1, 2016, The Indian Express