Deserted New Delhi Hospitals Sour India’s Healthcare Dream

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Two state-of-the-art public hospitals in New Delhi are barely operational years after they officially opened – not for lack of funding but because officials did not spend the millions of dollars allocated to treat heart and kidney patients.

The empty hospitals in the heart of the Indian capital are emblematic of the paralysis gripping a public health system that is responsible for some of the world’s worst health indicators. Many of the country’s 1.2 billion people have a choice between expensive private care, or no care at all.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces many challenges to his stated goal of providing universal public health coverage, but one of the most daunting is ending the logjams that mean officials consistently fail to use their budgets.

At the 300-bed Janakpuri Super Speciality Hospital, gleaming marble-floored corridors disappear into dark wings, thick chains locking the doors to most of the five-storey building. Wards lie empty, without beds. It officially opened in 2008.

In another part of the city of 16 million people, the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital sits in a landscaped 13-acre complex. It started outpatient services in 2003 but more than a decade later only six beds – of the 650 the hospital was built for – receive overnight patients.

The hospitals were allocated $48 million in the current financial year but still lack basic equipment and, crucially, doctors. They will only spend a fraction of the amount by year-end: under 20 percent in the case of Janakpuri hospital.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health