“Healthcare must be kept out of political bickerings”

In a freewheeling one on one interview, Mrs Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament talked about experiences on a pilot scale project in her constituency besides expressing broader views on healthcare policymaking in India

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New Delhi: The BioVoice News has initiated a series of discussions with the top political class in our country to know their opinions on bioscience policymaking. The idea is to engage them on topics which are often neglected due to other political issues. In this regard, our first interaction was with Mrs Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament and National Spokesperson, Bharatiya Janta Party. Read the excerpts from her Q&A session with Rahul Koul, Chief Editor, BioVoice News below.

BV_icon_finalPlease share with us your experiences on a pilot scale mobile healthcare van in your constituency?  What was the idea behind it?

I had taken an initiative at the localized level to provide the healthcare through mobile vans at the doorsteps. After some time, we noticed that while the vans were running but the process of collecting data and its digitization hit a roadblock due to the few issues. When I did the follow up, I saw that the concerned officer was missing. We have taken up this issue with the concerned authorities.

My idea to begin with, was to help in creating the data collection avenues for the Haemophilia and Tuberculosis patients as well as ones with set of disabilities. But the focus was also the pregnant women who could provide great source of information on various diseases and their spreading.  While half of a time we look for the authentic information from the street, we find there are not enough mechanisms for that.

BV_icon_final How could have the collection of data helped in improving healthcare scenario? What are the challenges?

Digitizing the healthcare data could help in making the system robust. The data compilation and its analysis could help us to devise mechanisms for the diagnosis and treatment at right stages.

As a sincere Member of Parliament, I wanted to carry out this project in my constituency but unfortunately it was stonewalled because of local politics. With a lot of frustration, I would say that we can meet those who obstruct and inform them about the importance. If a person of my stature showed patience, it is only because I wanted the work to be completed without getting into politics. Healthcare must be kept out of all this political bickering.

I think it is important that people realize the importance of healthcare. We need to reach out and plan in advance. Where there is a will, there is away. Somehow I find this will missing from the scene.

BV_icon_final How do you look at the healthcare scenario in Delhi? Has the situation improved?

Absolutely not. I feel that when the health programs are run to score the political points then to expect the outcomes, is going to be difficult. My experiences with the local bureaucracy have been very bad. It took twelve and half months for the government to execute the mobile health van project and that too in parts.

“Digitizing the healthcare data could help in making the system robust. The data compilation and its analysis could help us to devise mechanisms for the diagnosis and treatment at right stages.”

BV_icon_final Will you raise these issues on the floor of Parliament (Lok Sabha)?

I have raised such issues in past and will continue to do so. I have written to the concerned ministries. I think this is all in the service of the nation. We must all put together our efforts. Sometimes, a good suggestion coming from anywhere can change the life. If I can make intervention for railway staff and seek air-conditioners for drivers, then why not for the other genuine cases of everybody else.

BV_icon_final Given your interest and involvement in healthcare related issues, do you manage to speak to the health minister?

I do meet him and raise these issues. I infact ran a campaign on Tuberculosis (TB) and no spitting in public places. I wanted to find the urinating persons in open and tell them about the lots of health problems it creates. It is a precursor to many diseases. The issue of persons with disabilities has been one of my priority areas and will continue to do whatever I can contribute.

We have to do the right intervention. In this country when lot of money comes for HIV- AIDS prevention, we see people actually die from TB. Therefore, we got to work at various levels and get it done.