AAP's mohalla clinics: Lack of centralised data system makes the flagship project more of a novelty

New Delhi: Delhi government’s flagship healthcare project, the mohalla clinic, has failed to meet the expected results of health profiling in the capital, as there is no systematised flow of data from these dispensaries to the highest echelons of the health department.

A visit to the unit that looks after issues related to the mohalla clinics in the health directorate of the Delhi government shows that it receives no data from the 105 clinics established under the health department.

When Firstpost visited the directorate, officials present there said that they they possessed no data on the health scenario of the city, as they do not receive any such inputs from the clinics.

A patient getting a consultation at a Mohalla Clinic. Image courtesy: AAP Facebook

A patient getting a consultation at a mohalla clinic. Image courtesy: AAP Facebook

“The patient data collected from mohalla clinics is stored in the offices of the 11 Chief District Medical Officers (CDMO) of the city,” an official in the unit said.

“Since there is no system of analysing health trends from the data generated in the mohalla clinics, no data on this regard from the CDMO offices is collected,” said the official.

It is worth noting here that the CDMO is a district level health official, with a limited role in wide-scale policy making.

Ashok Agarwal, a health activist, told Firstpost that health profiling is a crucial aspect of effective health-policy making.

“If the health department has a system of recording health data in the mohalla clinics, then that data has to be fed into a centralised system for analysis,” he said.

“Without knowing the latest trend of diseases that have been showing up in the city, how can one formulate an effective health policy? How can one even know if epidemics like dengue are cropping up in the city again?” Agarwal asked.

The mohalla clinics opened by the Delhi government had earned much accolades across the world, not only because of the free healthcare they provide or the diagnostic tests offered by them, but also because of the state of the art technology employed by the clinics to record health data.

The clinics introduced the much publicised Swasthya Slate technology, which provides more than 45 instant diagnostic tests along with the ability to record the health data of a patient.

On the introduction of this new technology in the said clinics, it was expected that the knowledge gap that cripples the policy makers in formulating health policy would be bridged.

Kenneth E Thorpe, chair of department of health policy at the Rollins School of Public Health, USA, who has conducted an extensive study on India’s health sector, told Firstpost that India lacks data on the growing menace of non-communicable diseases. He had also expected that the data generated in the clinics would help in fighting the menace.

“India’s disease burden has shifted to non-communicable diseases. But no detailed data is available about the growing menace. Mohalla clinic is a model that can provide us with data related to the growth of this menace, if emulated in all over the country,” Thorpe said.

He also said that more than 60 percent of deaths in the country are caused by non-communicable diseases.

Thorpe added that every mohalla clinic records patient data electronically, which can be used in formulating a policy to prevent non-communicable diseases; which are not only preventable but also curable, if detected early.

According to a study conducted by the World Economic Forum, India needs to create a data sharing mechanism to fight the challenge thrown by non-communicable diseases.

The mohalla clinic project was declared by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the year 2015. The project was considered revolutionary as it challenged the disparity in healthcare received by the rich and the poor.

Even as the Delhi government stumbles in its way to make the vision of opening 1,000 such clinics a reality, the health department fails to make optimum use of the existing clinics in formulating a preventive and effective health policy – by creating a data sharing mechanism as advised by the World Economic Forum.

When informed about this malady to Abhishek Kumar, an official in the Public Grievance Management Cell of the Delhi government, he said to Firstpost that he will certainly apprise the health minister.

“I think a circular can be issued to instruct that the health data reaches the directorate for analysis,” he said.