Editorial: Prioritizing healthcare


The health department in the state, be it Jammu, Kashmir or Ladakh division remains in news, albeit for wrong reasons for most of the times. The department as a whole can be termed as one of the most non-functional and callous government departments as the laxities shown by the officials demand highest degree of condemnation and investigations.

The governments claims about the functioning of the health department fall flat as even the basic facilities that should have been provided to the people across the state are being ignored.

Let us take an example of the non-functional X-Ray machine of Sub District Hospital Nowshera. The machine has been lying defunct since months. The scenario is adversely affecting the healthcare in the area as people visiting the hospital face lot of problems in getting a simple X-Ray done.

This being too small an issue for the local administration of the department, other issues like that of providing medical staff for the people too has been delayed. The vacant posts of specialists are also a cause of concern for the people here.

Two posts of Gynaecologists are also lying vacant, there is also urgent requirement of child specialists and physicians, which again has been ignored. All this comes at a time when the state’s Chief Minister just yesterday announced that a model hospital will be set up in every constituency in the state.

The tall claims of the government, it seems are not reflecting on ground. The department of health has also come for severe criticism by the audit authority, CAG as it has raised serious questions over the purchase of medicines by the health care institutions in the state. The report states that several supply orders had been issued for procurement from the local open market during 2010-11 to 2014-15 without inviting tenders and in several cases procurements were made on the basis of expired rate contracts.

“Of the 9782 supply orders (Value: 2108.52 crore) placed by the test-checked health institutions, 1898 supply order (19 per cent) (Value: 264.25 crore) had been placed on the basis of Rate Contracts finalized by the Purchase Committees.

CAG has also pointed out that some purchases made on repeat orders that lead to the undue benefits to the suppliers, (797 supply orders (value 227.14 crore) were placed on the basis of Rate Contracts the validity of which had expired, resulting in purchase on repeat order basis and extension of undue benefits to the suppliers.

Besides, large scale procurements (244.28 crore) on the basis of expired rate contracts and from the local market was due to the fact that Purchase Committees had not been able to finalize Annual Rate Contracts.

168 supply orders (value 23.62 crore) had been placed with Jan Aushudi Stores/ Red Cross/ Super Bazar/ Outside Health Institutions. 6919 supply orders (71 per cent) out of a total of 9782 supply orders (value: 213.52 crore) had been issued for procurement from the local open market during 2010-11 to 2014-15 without inviting tenders.

In such a scenario the government needs to wake up and shake up this crucial department as the healthcare facilities provided in the state are already under scanner. The government needs to prioritize the functioning of the health department on professional lines and for this the top slots in the department should be filled in by competent and honest officers.  

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