Rashmi Srivastava which was merely a name to me until I talked to her during a conference call organized by Aam Aadmi Party USA chapter. Rashmi, a Software Engineer by profession left the dreamland, Texas USA and moved to New Delhi permanently in 2013. She had been an active volunteer since IAC movement and sharpened the Calling Campaign during 2013 Delhi Assembly elections for Aam Aadmi Party. After moving back to Delhi, she started volunteering with Ministry of Health, Govt of NCT.

Only motivation and dream of doing something significant keeps one driving as a volunteer. Continuing as a volunteer is challenging, especially in India where it is difficult to convince others to believe in you; especially when the concept of a volunteer is new to the world outside academia. As a volunteer, quitting is the easiest part than facing the challenges but Rashmi never quit even with financial and family ups and downs. Rashmi continued the hard-work as she was doing for long living far from homeland. After a long journey, Rashmi was appointed as the Personal Secretary of Delhi Health Minister in Nov 2017. Since then, she is handling health initiatives from Health Minister, some of them are polyclinic, mohalla clinics, enhancing health facilities etc.

Many services and organizations completely rely on volunteers in western countries especially in the US and Canada. Both the volunteers and organization work as a team and take care of each others. Even for me (yes, the author!), the concept of “being a volunteer” was new when I came to Canada. In India, volunteership was limited to schools/college. I never imagined it to be outside the university system. So, whenever I see an opportunity, I get involved as a volunteer with organizations and the experience has been amazing. Other than the NGOs, concept of a volunteer is new to the Indian system. It has its disadvantages because as a volunteer, you are dependent on the organization which listen to you only if they find it necessary or important. Now think about contacting any govt. department as a volunteer. Because bureaucracy knows whom to listen, whom to follow, how to work and has its own pace, they might never need a volunteer. In my (author) opinion, things can be very different in India if people start valuing and respecting each other based on qualities and works instead of power and money.

As a volunteer, Rashmi was working on a project on community mobilization for preventive healthcare. Involving citizens as volunteers into the healthcare system can prevent many diseases by creating awareness among their family and society. This will lead to better health and services as saved time and energy can be dedicated to other important projects. The community mobilization project hasn’t seen light of the day yet and Rashmi is hopeful to mobilize it at a bigger scale.

Health ministry of Delhi has divided the health system into three layers. 1. Primary layer (all the primary health care at the Mohalla Clinics) 2. Secondary layer (specialization like orthopedic, thermologist etc in polyclinics) and 3. Tertiary layer (surgeries and emergencies in hospitals). Using this structure, crowd at the hospitals is better managed and residents of Delhi get better health services. Feedback from Delhi residents has been very encouraging and helpful. Some key features of improved health services in the capital are: 

  • Doctors from admin services are removed such that they are focused on serving patients, the admin posts are filled by managers whose job is to manage general tasks and doctors schedule. 
  • Facilities and independence is given to medical superintendents such that they can buy medical equipment and take their own decision. Decentralization gives the power to hospitals locally because they know their needs. 

There are challenges which keeps biting govt from time to time and endup delaying the outcomes. Under certain circumstances, files keep moving for months which further delay the delivery. On one side there are people who keep pushing towards delivery of projects whereas on the other side there is a system which has its own pace and authority. Other involvements which affect the delivery are: approval from different departments, construction, empanelment etc.

  • Health ministry has planned to issue health card and health insurance for each Delhi resident 
  • A road accident victim can be taken to any hospital (pvt or govt) on behalf of Delhi govt and the person who help the accident victim gets Rs 2000 as reward 
  • All the blood tests are free for Delhi residents 
  • Delhi govt has tied up with private hospitals and 80 types of surgeries can be performed in any private hospital if the govt hospital doesn’t have the facility or appointment is not obtained within a month 
  • Bed capacity in hospitals has been increased 
  • Government is confident in adding 500 Mohalla Clinics and 100 Polyclinics, extension of Delhi Cancer Institute and 1 brand new hospital by the mid of this year 

Rashmi is no exception, it is the hard work, dedication and energy which is an inspiration for many. If you like volunteering and afraid that govt department won’t listen to you, Rashmi is a perfect example. If you have skills and determination, presently Health Department is looking for data analysts, researchers, data/information managers, campaign managers, project managers/coordinators, software/application developers and volunteers for preventive health awareness campaign.