Srinagar: The J&K government has not acted on recommendations of the special health task force that was formed nine years ago to suggest reforms in the sector.
The Task Force on Health Sector Reforms had recommended a slew of measures to improve healthcare, including public-private partnerships, a state university for medical education, generic drug stores in government hospitals, and establishing of clinical research and diagnostic centers.
Following several meetings of the task force in 2010 and 2013, a comprehensive list of healthcare reforms was approved by the then chief minister, Omar Abdullah. However, not a single recommendation was implemented by successive governments.
Convener of the Task Force, Dr Ajit Nagpal, admitted that nothing had been done to bring reforms in the health sector of J&K according to the suggestions made by him.
“I have always been in touch with chief ministers of J&K, who have been the chairpersons of the Task Force. But there have been serious lacunae in the implementation process,” he said.
“I will highlight every issue in the next meeting of the Task Force. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has promised that the meeting will be held after conclusion of the ongoing assembly session. I have already conveyed my observations to her,” Dr Nagpal told Kashmir Reader.
As per official sources, one of the reforms was opening of diagnostic centers in all the hospitals of J&K under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to make expensive tests affordable for the poor. The government had also agreed to open Generic Drug Stores in tertiary-care hospitals and district and sub-district hospitals to replace Jan Aashudi Drug Stores (JADS) which were run by J&K Red Cross Society.
“The members of the task force were keen to bring private investors for the health sector, especially for upgrade of diagnostic facilities like MRI, CT scan and others in government hospitals. But the project was grounded due to the callous approach of the government,” said a senior administrator.
He said that the previous government (of Omar Abdullah) had approved the introduction of modern technology in the health sector.
“This was to be done with public-private partnerships and by encouraging joint ventures,” the official said.
In one of the meetings, sources said, the government had promised that Emergency Ambulance Service on number codes 102 and 108 would be implemented soon.
“However, no such system works even after approval from the Government of India,” sources said.
Funds for accreditation of government hospitals were also sanctioned after a recommendation by the Task Force.
“The upgrade of Biomedical Waste System was also suggested, by introducing Positive Impact Waste Solutions (PIWS) instead of Inclinators,” a senior health official said.
The members of the Task Force had also stressed on the need to enhance and upgrade health facilities in rural health centers.
“Successive governments have failed completely to carry out reforms in the health department. This has led to lack of accountability in the sector,” said a doctor who was part of three meetings of the Task Force.
He said the telemedicine scheme has been a non-starter in J&K. “Telemedicine scheme was approved to take health consultation and other related facilities to far-flung areas of J&K. But, funds released under the scheme remained unspent,” the doctor told KR.