On the Institutional Failure of the Healthcare System in Jammu and Kashmir

On the Institutional Failure of the Healthcare System in Jammu and Kashmir
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Junaid Malik

The two most important factors of public welfare in any society could be best judged by its education and healthcare.
The recent case of the tribal woman in Kashmir jolted the whole society wherein a pregnant lady was thrown out of the hospital in sub zero temperature who consequently gave birth to a dead female child in the middle of the road. The irony of the matter is that many districts and voluntary organizations were also holding workshops and awareness camps on “Ayushman Bharat and “Beti Bachao Beti Bachao” ,the flagship programme of government of India to save girl child and female mortality ratio on the day as well.
The biggest problem in Jammu and Kashmir is that of institutional failure and politicization of the health care system. The successive governments do not take a scientific and holistic view of schemes in totality before formulating any policy. The sanctioning of six AIIMS pattern hospitals were taken to ameliorate the sufferings of the people but nothing is being done to equip the existing hospitals and public health centers. The premier institutions like GMCs and other peripheral hospitals don’t cater to the huge rush of patients who rush to these despite the existence of district hospitals in every district. The district hospital and Public health centers are just bricks and walls for few employees to draw monthly salaries.
The districts are running short of doctors and specialized equipments needed for critical cases. The Public health centers remain mostly close or open with no doctor to look after the patients. (Thanks to political machinery and corrupt bureaucracy for devising the plans of attachments and need basis)
The medical colleges in both the divisions don’t cater to the thousands of patients that throng these. Even in emerging wards, multiple patients are accommodated in the same bed let alone the emergency and accidental cases. Doctors, more specifically junior doctors, work at a stretch for more than four hours to treat thousands of patients in OPD’s. Even the patients with serious ailments of kidney failures, cancer have to wait for months for their respective treatments and therapies. These dysfunctional peripheral and overcrowded city hospitals are playing havoc with the health care of the state.
Moreover, the doctors who pass out every year from the medical colleges are not ready to serve in villages and their respective native place because of dim career prospects and unprofessional environment which often leads to conflict even between the doctors and patients which is galore with the increasing rate of thrashing of paramedics ,damage to hospital properties and scuffles between the patients and doctors. This uneven distribution of patients, ill equipped peripheral hospitals, huge ratio gap of doctors and patients, low career prospects and to the politicization of health department is becoming detrimental to the lives of the people
The need of the hour is to streamline the system. The critical need is equip the district hospitals and public health centers, both in human resource and machinery, which would eventually give respite to the doctors and patients as well. It must be made mandatory for the doctors even at the entry level to serve their native places at-least for a decade both for experience to know the basic requirements and serve the people.
The biggest problem which disturbs the whole equilibrium is that the doctors are not ready to serve outside the twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar. They prefer to go to other cities and foreign countries for better future and huge dividends. Even the specialized serving doctors spend decades in the Gulf in Europe despite on the government roll which itself is the depiction of our legal system and law enforcement mechanism.
Only infrastructural development won’t set right the track but other corrective measures need to be taken away from pomp and show with result oriented policy. Streamlining the induction and service rules, depoliticization of the health department, better supply of human resource and advanced equipments, strict check on spurious drugs and unethical practices of doctors can help a lot to streamline the healthcare of Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, the doctors must bear in mind that they are next to god for a patient and people must not forget that they are human beings like all of us with their own needs and necessities even though blots are present in every profession.

—The writer is a writer and columnist and can be reached at: Malikjunaid22@gmail.com