Srinagar: The concern that the J&K government has for public health is evident from the mess it has made of the project to open free dialysis centres in government hospitals. Despite funds released for such centres to 14 government hospitals, the health department has decided to open only two dialysis centers, on an experimental basis, in the constituencies of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and of Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta. Even these centres are being opened hurriedly, to safeguard the money allocated under the National Dialysis Programme.
According to official sources, the health department has chosen District Hospital Anantnag and District Hospital Gandhi Nagar, Jammu, for starting the free dialysis centers on trial basis. The moves comes after the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (GOI), chastised the state government for its callous approach to healthcare.
“The decision was taken recently after a proposal sent by the J&K government was rejected (by GoI) for violation of norms,” an official told Kashmir Reader.
Earlier, Kashmir Reader had reported that the health department had released nearly Rs 1.5 crore to government hospitals, despite approval being denied by the GoI. According to Director of the National Health Mission (NHM) in J&K, Dr Mohan Singh, funds were released for setting up dialysis centers in 14 hospitals, 7 each in Srinagar and in Jammu.
“We have already released 10 lakh each to the 14 hospitals for civil works,” Singh had said.
An official privy to the programme said that an official communication from GoI had criticised the health department for sending a faulty proposal and delaying the National Dialysis Programme in J&K. An allocation of Rs 200 crore has been made to J&K under the National Dialysis Program (NDP) in 2016-17.
“It forced the department to start construction work on the two centers, but in an unregulated way and without following guidelines,” the official said.
Sources said the centers have been chosen to please the chief minister and the assembly speaker. No separate staff has been recruited for the two centres.
“As of now, only construction work has started. But both the dialysis centres are as yet without staff, equipment, and other requirements,” said a nephrologist.
As per the Operational Guidelines of the NDP, a dialysis center should be headed by a qualified nephrologist or MD Medicine with one-year dialysis training from a recognised center, which he visits at least once every fortnight and takes a clinical review of all the patients. Other staff requirement include Medical Officers, one doctor (MBBS) per shift for a maximum of 10 machines, dialysis technicians/ nurses — one technician for every 3 machines, sweepers (1 for every five machine per shift), and hospital attendant (1 for every five machines per shift).
A separate hemodialysis area has to be designated solely for use of Hepatitis B patients.
However, the new dialysis centres are coming up in cramped spaces and amid old infrastructure.
“No separate building is being constructed for these centers. Small areas have been designated for the trial facility,” said a doctor working with NHM.
He said a dedicated space of 120 sq ft per dialysis machine is a must to run the facility smoothly.
Meanwhile, officials are uncertain about the start of the centres as the GoI is yet to release funds for equipment.
Medical Superintendent (MS) of District Hospital Gandhi Nagar, Jammu, Dr AD Singh Manhas claimed the facility will start next month as civil works have almost been completed.
“We are hopeful that the free dialysis facility will start within 15 to 20 days in our hospital. We are only waiting for the equipment from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” he said.
Dr Manhas said doctors and paramedics are undergoing special two-month training at a super-specialty hospital. “They will work as dedicated staff for running six dialysis machines in the centre,” he said.
“The space allotted for the centre will suffice for the time being,” Dr Manhas said when asked why no separate building was constructed for the facility.
MS of District Hospital Anantnag, Dr Majid Mehrab, said: “The free dialysis facility may start in the first week of April. We are waiting for the equipment. Otherwise, manpower required for the programme is already trained.”
He added, “Readiness Certificate has already been given, as Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant has been installed.”