Looking back 2023; A year of tussle with Centre over Aam Aadmi Clinics : The Tribune India

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Looking back 2023; A year of tussle with Centre over Aam Aadmi Clinics

Looking back 2023; A year of tussle with Centre over Aam Aadmi Clinics


Tribune News Service

Vishav Bharti

Chandigarh, December 24

If launch of around 100 Aam Aadmi Clinics brought a new hope for people of Punjab in 2022, these clinics became a bone of contention between the Centre and the state government in 2023.

The Centre stopped state’s around 700 crore funds of the National Health Mission for changing branding of these clinics, including putting a photo of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

Looking forward to…

  • 100 more Aam Aadmi Clinics are ready to be thrown open to the public, while the Chief Minister has also given the go-ahead to set up 70 additional Aam Aadmi Clinics at underserved Kandi areas, including Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Gurdaspur.
  • Upgrade of around 40 secondary care health facilities, including district, sub-divisional hospitals and Community Health Centres (CHCs)
  • Construction of new government medical colleges to start

In December 2022, the Centre had stopped releasing grants to the state under the Ayushman Scheme. So far, the state government’s appeal to the Centre to release funds has fallen on deaf ears.

Despite the hostility, the healthcare sector witnessed a lot of improvement and the number of Aam Aadmi Clinics increased to 664 (236 in urban and 428 in rural areas) in 2023.

Highs

  • Around 75 lakh patients got treated in Aam Aadmi Clinics
  • Punjab received first prize for “Strengthening last mile delivery of drugs: A case study from Punjab” in the Global Health Supply Chain Summit held in Nairobi from November 14 to 16
  • Launch of around 550 new Aam Aadmi Clinics

Lows

  • Frequent change of secretaries in the Health Department
  • Three Managing Directors of Punjab Health Systems Corporation changed in 2023
  • Not much could be done in direction of starting new government medical colleges

These clinics offer 84 essential drugs and 40 plus diagnostics at free of cost. All of these clinics are IT-enabled with end-to-end digitisation of registration, doctor consultation, investigations and prescriptions. This results in a five-step patient journey and thus reduced turnout time from patient registration to prescription. Around 75 lakh patients have availed free treatment at these clinics to date.

However, not much could be done in secondary and tertiary care despite tall claims. The government went gaga about launching of new ward in Patiala’s Mata Kaushalya Hospital by two Chief Ministers, but it became embarrassment for the government when the Opposition claimed that two CMs had inaugurated a 10-bed ward. The government’s aim to start five new government medical colleges by 2027 still seems a distant dream as work is going at a slow pace.

If 2022 witnessed frequent change of health ministers, this year it was bureaucrats in the Health and Medical Education Department. Within a span of nine months, the state witnessed three health ministers last year.

Patiala (Rural) MLA Dr Balbir Singh was sworn in as a Health and Medical Education Minister in the first week of January. However, in fourth week of January, health secretary Ajoy Sharma, who was instrumental in launching of 100 mohalla clinics within four months of formation of the AAP government, was unceremoniously removed for resisting ‘wastage of public money’.

After Ajoy Sharma, two IAS officers were brought in within a span of nine months but the work suffered. In October, the government brought back Sharma as health secretary.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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