Former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan lauded the Delhi government's health reforms in terms of setting up Mohalla Clinics, saying that the initiative was consistent with the goal of achieving universal health care.
Annan, in a letter he wrote to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, said, “We are aware that your administration has implemented a series of health reforms consistent with the UHC (universal health care) goal. In particular, you have scaled up the provision of universal health services, most notably in providing free primary healthcare services through your new Mohalla Clinics.”
He wrote the letter in his capacity as Chair of Elders, an organisation of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela. “We understand that this initiative is proving to be very successful and we commend you on this impressive achievement,” he wrote.
On behalf of the Elders, Annan also attached a memorandum that reflected on the health reforms carried out by the AAP government in Delhi and also suggested some areas where it may wish to develop its programme.
Commenting on the health sector reforms in Delhi, the memorandum noted that they have involved providing universal access to free publicly financed health services, including specialist services at tertiary level facilities and free services throughout the city’s hospitals and polyclinics, including an expanded package of free medicines and diagnostic services.
It was perhaps the Delhi government's primary healthcare reforms that have been most impressive, they noted. “In just over a year, the government has opened 106 Mohalla clinics in poor areas of the city, which provide a wide range of free diagnostic tests and medicines – totally free of charge for anybody choosing to access them.”
It pointed out a recent article in The Lancet, which showed that these clinics have treated over 1.5 million people in just over seven months.
According to the memorandum, the utilisation of the Mohalla Clinics represents a large increase in the consumption of cost-effective primary healthcare without people incurring financial costs. This development therefore appears to be a significant step towards increasing effective health coverage in Delhi, it said.
It said this approach closely matched the UHC strategy recommended by India's high level expert group on UHC, which reported to the UPA government in 2011. It is also consistent with the UHC policy position advocated by the Elders, it said.
Many key health stakeholders in India, it said, are very excited about the Mohalla Clinic programme and its potential to become a model for scaling up coverage in other states.