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Delhi govt's plan to issue health cards to residents on fast track

Arun Sreenivasan, New Delhi
Thursday, February 8, 2018, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

After winning global praise for its highly successful Mohalla clinics programme, the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi is fast-tracking its next ambitious project – health cards for all the 1.8 crore residents of Delhi.

The Directorate General of Health Services has invited expression of interest (EOI) from companies and agencies to design and develop the software for Aadhaar-based verification and issuance of the health card. The deadline for submitting the EOI is February 28.

“The scheme is to issue health cards to all residents. The holder of the card will be entitled to free healthcare services in institutions either owned by the state government or run by the government under autonomous mode, polyclinics, dispensaries, primary urban health centres and Mohalla clinics,” a top official at the directorate said.

Voter identity card of Delhi is mandatory for availing the Aam Aadmi Health Card, which will be issued by Department of Health and Family Welfare, for individuals aged above 18 years. Similarly, Aadhaar card number is required for anyone above 1 year of age. The card holders will also get priority for registration for various healthcare services, the official added.

However, many healthcare activists and advocacy groups have expressed their apprehensions over the proposed scheme. “Making health card mandatory will have serious implications in a city like Delhi where a large part of the population is migrant workers. Another concern is denial of care to those who don’t possess cards. Since healthcare is free already, the relevance of this whole exercise is questionable,” co-convener of non-profit All India Drugs Action Network Malini Aisola told Pharmabiz.

The move is the latest in a slew of initiatives proposed and implemented by the state government. Its Mohalla or community clinics project, launched in 2015, was cheered by global leaders such as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former director general of World Health Organisation Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. The state government’s flagship healthcare project, ‘Quality Healthcare for All’, provides high-end diagnostic tests and surgeries for free at private centres and hospitals. Official figures show that more than 12,000 people benefitted from it between March and December 2017.

Another proposal in the pipeline is the setting up of a Hospital Management Information System to integrate all the government hospitals and Mohalla clinics. The idea was floated by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at a healthcare sector review meeting recently. A dedicated call centre would be set up to facilitate the patients and guide them to nearest hospitals and out-patient departments, pharmacies and labs would be refurbished as part of the proposed programme.


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