Daktarkhana offers health services and hope

When statistics indicate that 3,000-plus daily cases are becoming the new normal, and our healthcare sector is in a race against time to tackle the waves of patients (Covid-19 positive and otherwise) pouring in from all walks of life, a recent report in this daily tells us of Daktarkhana, an exemplary initiative to set up general physician (GP) centres to treat patients with general ailments. Its purpose is to share the load of patients, and in turn, ease their flow to the already overburdened hospitals and clinics, many of which are in a dire state. We commend the initiative taken by Dr Ratindra Nath Mondal, a medicine specialist who founded Daktarkhana last year, to address this need of the hour. His idea is based on the model adopted in developed countries where residents of a particular area can seek primary medical consultation and treatment at their respective GP centres. If the GPs are unable to diagnose the patient or if the patient requires expert care, only then will the GPs refer them to the designated specialists. 

As a result, general patients no longer need to wait in endless queues at hospitals which are now overburdened with critical patients—many of them Covid patients. Instead, they can get treatment, medicine and in-depth counselling from the GP centres at a bare minimum, or for free if they are unable to afford it. Enabling employment, Daktarkhana allows newly-graduated registered doctors to attend a four-day training so that they are prepared to treat all types of general diseases, whether it is related to newborns or adults. Upon completion, they are permitted to open a Daktarkhana branch. Given the acute shortage of trained hospital staff nationwide, such a passage will surely help facilitate basic healthcare for the people during this time of crisis. Furthermore, the GP centres also provide free telemedicine, letting patients use the service from far and wide.

To date, Daktarkhana established 70 branches across the country, trained around 3,250 doctors and aims to set up a branch in every one kilometre area. Based on the success of their initiative, we believe that there is an urgency for similar models to be replicated across all communities. The government can play a significant role here by contributing to Daktarkhana in its timely endeavour, by instructing the relevant bodies to help speed up the process and establishing such centres on its own, especially in remote parts of the country. Needless to say, the condition of our hospitals and clinics are in a precarious state and the way ahead is to immediately implement the expansion plans of these GP centres to provide some relief to patients who can be treated without hospitalisation.

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