Namma Clinics open, but dogged by unavailability of doctors and medical infrastructure

The project, billed as a healthcare counterpart to Indira Canteens providing subsidised food, has faced criticism over duplication of infrastructure since each ward already has a PHC

Published - February 15, 2023 10:08 pm IST - Bengaluru

A patient getting treated in a Namma Clinic.

A patient getting treated in a Namma Clinic. | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Bengaluru:

Namma Clinics announced in the 2022-23 State Budget and proposed to come up in all 243 wards of Bengaluru, have opened in many wards but are dogged by several issues.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has earmarked buildings and started these Namma Clinics only in 208 of the 243 wards. Some of those opened suffer from a severe shortage of doctors and medical infrastructure, including medicines.

A resident of Sanjaynagar said though a clinic was inaugurated it was never opened to the public. “Sometimes, when the shutters are up, civil works are under way. When I asked the officials, they said medical instruments are yet to reach the clinic, and doctors are yet to be appointed. Then why inaugurate it? They should have instead developed the Primary Health Centre (PHC),” said Mohan Kumar, the resident.

Healthcare schemes

The project, billed as a healthcare counterpart to Indira Canteens providing subsidised food, has faced criticism over duplication of infrastructure since each ward already has a PHC. “There is no clarity on the role of PHCs and Namma Clinics. There are no PHCs in any of the 198 wards, while there is a proposal to expand it to the newly formed wards as well, taking the number to 243,” an official said.

However, another official said the clinics would also focus on creating awareness about government healthcare schemes. “These clinics will provide services for detecting non-communicable diseases and referral for higher treatment to specialists. All appointments will be on temporary terms. The clinics will reduce the burden on the existing health facilities in urban areas,” officials said.

Recruitment of doctors

Civic officials said the unavailability of doctors was a major problem. “The civic body has advertised for the job positions multiple times but has not been able to recruit doctors for all the clinics. The other clinics in all the wards will be opened in phases once the recruitment is completed,” a BBMP official said.

To sort this out, the BBMP plans to recruit doctors under the Karnataka Compulsory Medical Services Act, which prescribes one-year compulsory service in different types of government health institutions for all postgraduates and undergraduates passing out from Karnataka.

Officials also said the BBMP was looking into another alternative under the National Medical Guidelines, where doctors are required to serve for a specific period in State hospitals after the completion of their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

K. Sudhakar, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, had earlier said doctors would be roped in soon, and the project was launched two months ago. However, the project has seen little progress since then.

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