Ailing Health Sector

Is there any medicine available to cure this?

Confrontation between doctors and patients; death of patients due to alleged negligence of doctors; interference of attendants and several other such reprehensible incidents are a routine in our hospitals and healthcare centers. This insensitive attitude of healthcare administration towards patients and highhandedness of certain bad elements in the society is manifestation of mismanagement in our health sector.

Healthcare and education are fundamentals of a strong and learned social order; healthcare being the vital element, relates to strong survival of mankind. The earlier conventional health service of our state influenced by traditional Hakeems, Vaids and Amchis changed significantly after independence. Taking cue from Europeans and their passionate motivation for reforms, Maharaj Hari Singh the progressive autocratic ruler of Jammu and Kashmir pioneered modern healthcare system in the state. Two major hospitals, SMHS hospital in Srinagar and SMGS hospital in Jammu city, established by the erstwhile maharaja even at present are vital support of our healthcare system.

After 1947 popular governments in a big way introduced people’s friendly and progressive programs and health sector was one such prioritized agenda. During last six decades the penetration of our health mission program to most remote corners of the state has been phenomenal and relatively successful. However, our efforts on administration front could not make any headway. Presently state possesses many state of the art specialty hospitals and other healthcare infrastructure with qualified and well trained human resource, but we desperately lack proper professional and scientific management. Particularly, our basic health sector even after possessing all modern facilities, infrastructure and manpower is unable to deliver and provide basic hygienic healthcare to common people. A cursory look into our healthcare units at block and district level provide a pathetic scene of suffering, mismanagement and exploitation. Many hospitals are either understaffed or lack manpower in several specific fields, thus making otherwise integrated system of treatment into a broken chain of shambles.

Major hospitals in the state have turned into breeding ground of infection, professional rivalry and exploitation. Almost every hospital stinks of foul smell and corruption and administration running at its lowest ebb. In Kashmir due to lack of proper administrative command and accountability maximum cases of least complicated orthopedic, maternity and childcare are referred to Srinagar’s major hospitals even after possessing every facility at district levels, creating a chaotic situation at these hospitals. Like any other sector, here only privileged and so called few elite are provided due care and quality treatment and rest are all pushed into trademark cattle class OPD (outpatients department).

Private medical sector in the state is growing, but not in line with medical ethics and fair practice. During last few decades, like education our health sector has also come under unpleasant influence of commercialization making it most prominently vulnerable to greed, materialism and racketing. Mushrooming nursing homes, clinical laboratories and other allied health units without any quality control and regulations has exposed our health care system to all possible vagaries of exploitation and misconduct. Lack of proper monitoring and regulation of private health sector has created a vested group making money out of suffering and desperation of people. In absence of proper accountability private health players have gone Haywire and are dictating their terms. How can we expect perfection and efficiency in healthcare in a state where eateries, ice-cream parlors and hotels have changed into clinical laboratories, diagnostic centers and nursing homes? Quacks, like beasts, are on prowl and centers of quackery are minting money out of distressed and gullible patients in pain and agony. As if humanity has taken a back seat! No stone is left unturned to fleece the desperate until their last drop of blood and financial capability dries down.

During last twenty years state’s prestigious drug control department was always in news not for its efficient implementation of drug control provisions, but only because of some dispute in seniority of few top ranking officers. This allied agency of health sector has failed miserably in curbing the menace of spurious drugs and growing drug abuse. Mushrooming drug stores at every nook and corner of the state run by unqualified personal is presently the only achievement of drug control agency. For a vigorous and flourishing society government should keep this vital sector above politics and infuse sense of accountability and fresh blood of quality administration with attributes of merit, devoid of any preferential treatment.

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