The added areas in the city are in dire need of more primary health centres with facilities for night clinics. The commissioning of additional centres and the rearrangement of existing centres is a vital step in relieving the pressure on tertiary care centres and offering primary healthcare to poor beneficiaries.

According to Chennai Corporation sources, the added areas of the city require at least 40 primary health care centres. There are only 16 centres in the zones of Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Ambattur, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur.

Residents in these areas are forced to visit tertiary care centres in the city for emergency medical intervention, especially in the evenings. “There is a Corporation hospital near Semmenchery. But doctors are available only during the day. But, we go to private hospitals or Government Royapettah Hospital for emergency medical care in the evening. The poor people in our neighbourhood find it quite difficult to manage,” said M. Kalyani, a resident of Semmenchery.

As many as 140 modernised urban primary health centres are likely to be commissioned as per the proposal under the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM). The evening clinics may benefit more than 18 lakh poor residents in 2,500 slums. According to Corporation data, Perungudi and Manali do not have any primary health facility run by the Chennai Corporation. Zones such as Alandur, Madhavaram and Tiruvottiyur have only one such centre each. Identification of land for commissioning centres evenly spread across all geographical areas of the Chennai Corporation is under way.

Hundreds of residents in such areas go to private facilities in Anna Nagar, Teynampet, Royapuram and Kodambakkam zones and spend huge amounts in the process. The Chennai Corporation has already done a baseline survey and identified problems including inequitable spatial distribution of centres with multiple service providers, unsuitable timings and distance from urban poor areas and overload on tertiary healthcare institutions.

After the nod for the NUHM is obtained, the Chennai Corporation is likely to commission the new primary healthcare facilities.

Residents are forced to depend on expensive private hospitals or far-off government institutions for treatment

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