In a move much appreciated by the locals, a one of its kind medical unit, Mohalla Clinic is up and running in Piragarhi Relief Camp. The camp did not have any medical facility before this.
“Earlier we had to go to Paschim Vihar for any medical problem. It is easy for us now,” said Surendra Kohli, a TB patients and a resident of the camp.
Mohalla Clinic is a peripheral health care unit which is aimed at providing better medical facility to the weaker sections. The clinic at Pira Garhi is part of a bigger project where 500 such units will be installed in various economically weak regions of Delhi.
“This is a first of its kind demonstrative unit. We will run this and understand the problems. Then these problems will be ironed out and 500 such Mohalla Clinics will be set up in Delhi this year. ” Project manager PWD, Ashok Rajdev told NewsGram.
The Mohalla Clinic right now has a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist and a technician. The registration process is completely digital and is done through a ‘Swasthya Slate’.
A lot of people have been visiting the clinic since it became operational last week, with 72 patients in the just the first 2 hours of its opening. Although the work load on staff is a lot, their positive and hard working attitude is inspiring.
“Yes, we are a small group, but we have to make this project successful. That’s our challenge and we will do it” Bhavna, who is the pharmacist of the clinic said.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain officially inspected the Mohalla Clinic today and made suggestions to improve the facility. He pointed towards the need to have facilities like drinking water dispenser, a token vending machine for the proper management of patients and provision for blood testing.
The people of the camp are undoubtedly very happy. A resident of the area, Manjit Kaur, while talking to NewsGram said that previous governments have not done anything for the area and AAP’s initiative is very noble and thoughtful. However, at the same time, she pointed out the problems due to the absence of proper roads and PDS store in the area.
“We have ration cards but there is no government outlet here. Even the roads get water logged during the rains and give rise to mosquitoes and Malaria,” she said.
Doctors at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital have told Robert Wanyonyi there’s nothing more they can do for him. Yet more than a year after he first arrived, shot and paralyzed in a robbery, the ex-shopkeeper remains trapped in the hospital.
Because Wanyonyi cannot pay his bill of nearly 4 million Kenyan shillings ($39,570), administrators are refusing to let him leave his fourth-floor bed.
At Kenyatta National Hospital and at an astonishing number of hospitals around the world, if you don’t pay up, you don’t go home.
The hospitals often illegally detain patients long after they should be medically discharged, using armed guards, locked doors and even chains to hold those who have not settled their accounts. Even death does not guarantee release: Kenyan hospitals and morgues are holding hundreds of bodies until families can pay their loved ones’ bills, government officials say.
An Associated Press investigation has found evidence of hospital imprisonments in more than 30 countries worldwide, according to hospital records, patient lists and interviews with dozens of doctors, nurses, health academics, patients and administrators. The detentions were found in countries including the Philippines, India, China, Thailand, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Bolivia and Iran. Of more than 20 hospitals visited by the AP in Congo, only one did not detain patients.
Millions possibly affected
“What’s striking about this issue is that the more we look for this, the more we find it,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “It’s probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people that this affects worldwide.”
During several August visits to Kenyatta National Hospital — a major medical institution designated a Center of Excellence by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the AP witnessed armed guards in military fatigues standing watch over patients. Detainees slept on bedsheets on the floor in cordoned-off rooms. Guards prevented one worried father from seeing his detained toddler.
Kenya’s ministry of health and Kenyatta canceled several scheduled interviews with the AP and declined to respond to repeated requests for comment.
Health experts decry hospital imprisonment as a human rights violation. Yet the United Nations, U.S. and international health agencies, donors and charities have all remained silent while pumping billions of dollars into these countries to support their splintered health systems or to fight outbreaks of diseases including AIDS and malaria.
“People know patients are being held prisoner, but they probably think they have bigger battles in public health to fight, so they just have to let this go,” said Sophie Harman, a global health expert at Queen Mary University of London.
Hospitals often acknowledge detaining patients isn’t profitable, but many say it can sometimes result in a partial payment and serves as a deterrent.
‘A way to conduct business’
Festus Njuguna, an oncologist at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, about 300 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, said the institution regularly detains children with cancer who have finished their treatment, but whose parents cannot pay.
“It’s not a very good feeling for the doctors and nurses who have treated these patients, to see them kept like this,” Njuguna said.
Still, many officials openly defend the practice.
“We can’t just let people leave if they don’t pay,” said Leedy Nyembo-Mugalu, administrator of Congo’s Katuba Reference Hospital. He said holding patients wasn’t an issue of human rights, but simply a way to conduct business: “No one ever comes back to pay their bill a month or two later.”
Global health agencies and companies that operate where patients are held hostage often have very little to say about it.
The CDC provides about $1.5 million every year to Kenyatta National Hospital and Pumwani Maternity Hospital, helping to cover treatment costs for patients with HIV and tuberculosis, among other programs. The CDC declined to comment on whether it was aware that patients were regularly detained at the two hospitals or if it condones the practice.
Dr. Agnes Soucat of the World Health Organization said it does not support patient detentions, but has been unable to document where it happens. And while the WHO has issued hundreds of health recommendations on issues from AIDS to Zika virus, the agency has never published any guidance advising countries not to imprison people in their hospitals.
‘Cruel, inhuman and degrading’
Many Kenyan human rights advocates lament that hospitals continue to hold patients despite what was seen as a landmark judgment in 2015.
Back then, the High Court ruled that the detention of two women at Pumwani who couldn’t pay their delivery fees — Maimuna Omuya and Margaret Oliele — was “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Omuya and her newborn were held for almost a month next to a flooded toilet while Oliele was handcuffed to her bed after trying to escape.
Earlier this month, the High Court ruled again that imprisoning patients “is not one of the acceptable avenues [for hospitals] to recover debt.”
Omuya said she is still psychologically scarred by her detention at Pumwani, especially after another recent run-in with a Nairobi hospital.
Several months ago, her youngest brother was treated for a suspected poisoning. When Omuya and her family were unable to pay the bill, the situation took a familiar but unwelcome turn: he was imprisoned. Her brother was only freed after his doctor intervened.
“Detentions still go on because there are no rights here,” Omuya said. “What I suffered, I want no one else to suffer.” (VOA)