From Temples to Dispensaries: Pune’s Innovative Healthcare Initiative

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Pune, 17th September 2023: Citizens in Pune are facing a lack of facilities due to the neglect of maintenance and repair of community temples. To address this issue, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is planning to establish Arogyavardhini Kendras (primary health centres) at the same locations as the community temples. A total of 42 community temples have been identified for this purpose.


The Municipal Corporation constructs community temples to provide a space for social activities, training, and other community gatherings. However, due to limited funds allocated for the maintenance of these temples, many of them have fallen into disrepair. The building department and regional offices have been neglecting their maintenance and repair.


The Arogyavardhini Center in the Samaj Mandir will be set up in a dispensary-like arrangement. Each center has been allocated a fund of Rs 20 lakhs for necessary renovations such as changing toilets, flooring, and painting walls. As a result, 42 community temples are expected to be demolished to make way for the Arogyavardhini Kendras. This will provide residents of the settlements with easy access to free treatment for common illnesses like fever, cold, and cough.


The Aarogyavardhini Yojana was launched by the state government in January 2022. However, due to space constraints in Pune, the service has only been implemented in four out of the 125 designated locations so far. The health department has requested the social development department to allocate social temples for the Arogyavardhini Kendras. However, there have been difficulties in taking possession of these spaces as some had been occupied by local leaders and organizations or converted into religious places. As a result, no health centers have been established in the community temples yet.


To increase healthcare facilities in Pune and the surrounding villages, the state government plans to set up a total of 125 Arogyavardhini Kendras. The project will be implemented in two phases, with 29 centers in the first phase and 96 centers in the second phase. Each health center will be staffed with one doctor, two nurses, one dresser, and one pharmacist.


“The locations for these centers are being chosen based on the spaces available in community temples. The Social Development Department has identified 42 suitable community temples for this purpose, and work has already begun in some of them. The remaining temples are currently being verified for their suitability”, said Vaishali Jadhav, Assistant Head of Health, Municipal Corporation.