Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday emphasised the importance of universal access to quality education and healthcare while addressing a gathering at an event in Delhi. He expressed the view that if one were to envision an ideal society akin to 'Ram Rajya,' it should encompass the provision of excellent and free education as well as healthcare services for all its citizens.
The Chief Minister inaugurated a new outpatient department (OPD) building at the Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, which is run by the Delhi government. He also took the opportunity to interact with patients at the facility.
Speaking at the inauguration of a new OPD building at Aruna Asaf Ali hospital, Kejriwal also said that everybody should have access to good education and healthcare and the AAP-led Delhi government is trying to work in that direction.
Healthcare and education are the focus areas of the Delhi government and expansion is going on in a major way, he said, adding that there are currently around 10,000 beds at all city government-run hospitals put together. Eleven new hospitals are being built and the infrastructure of old facilities is being upgraded, he said, adding 16,000 new beds will be added.
Drawing a connection to the upcoming Dusshera and Diwali festivals, Kejriwal mentioned the veneration of Lord Ram. He acknowledged the ideal of 'Ram Rajya' and, while admitting that it might be a distant goal, emphasized that it should encompass the fundamental principles of providing excellent and free education and healthcare to all members of society, regardless of their economic status.
"'Ram Rajya' is being spoken of. I cannot say that we can reach near 'Ram Rajya'. But if we imagine 'Ram Rajya', it should have good and free education and good and free healthcare for all," Kejriwal said.
Good education and healthcare should be there for all, whether rich or poor and "our government is trying to work in that direction", he added.
Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, local MLA Parlad Singh Sawhney and senior officials of the health department were also present on the occasion. Kejriwal also said building of new hospitals and augmenting of infrastructure and facilities at existing hospitals will align Delhi's health system with international standards and the WHO's parameters.
The Delhi government has spent approximately Rs 22.8 crore to construct the three-storey new OPD block at Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, apart from the ground floor. The block houses 25 consultation rooms, two elevators, and two staircases. It took nearly a year to complete this construction, the chief minister's office (CMO) later said in a statement.
The old block lacked required space and other facilities. The new block is spacious, centrally air-conditioned with availability of rooms for specialists, he said. Previously, around 800-1,000 patients were coming to the hospital daily, now this number could increase 2-3 times after the opening of the new OPD block, the chief minister said.
"On one hand, we tried to improve the condition and quality of government hospitals, built many mohalla clinics and polyclinics...On the other side, we have managed to provide healthcare facilities for free. All medicines, tests, treatment, and operations are free in government hospitals," he added.
Located along Rajpur Road, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital is a 100-bed multispecialty hospital providing round-the-clock services, and 45 major surgeries and 38 emergency surgeries are conducted at it per month, it said. The CMO in the statement shared data about the upcoming 11 hospitals.
The 11 hospitals being built will have 10,000 beds. These include hospitals at Siraspur (1,164 beds), Jwalapuri (691 beds), Madipur (691 beds), Hastsal (691 beds), Shalimar Bagh (1,430 beds), Sultanpuri (525 beds), Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya Annexe (610 beds), GTB Hospital Annexe (1,912 beds), Sarita Vihar (336 beds), Guru Gobind Singh Hospital Annexe (1,565 beds) and Kirari (485 beds), the statement said.
Under brownfield projects, 10 hospitals being taken up, adding 6,505 beds. These projects include a new block at Lok Nayak Hospital (1,570 beds) and augmentation of beds at Satyawadi Raja Harish Chandra Hospital, Narela (773 beds); Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Rohini (1063 beds); among other hospitals, besides a casualty block at Lok Nayak Hospital (with 384 beds), the statement said. Currently, 537 Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics are functional, out of which five are Mahila Mohalla Clinics, it added.