Reform state and private health care!
Ailing health sector in Jammu and Kashmir is an established fact. Everyone from top to bottom acknowledges it, but only privately. However, the series of revelations following the tragic deaths of many infants at G. B. Panth children’s hospital exposed many more skeletons concealed in the cupboards of deception.
For the last more than a month local press is full of credible stories of growing rot within our health system but in many cases authorities seem to be least concerned, except at G.B. Panth, where quick remedial measures were put in action to avert any further damage and humiliation. The G. B. Panth rot is only a tip of the bigger iceberg of decay—an enormous mass accumulated over many decades of negligence in the healthcare system of the state. Both, state Health Department managing a vast network of healthcare system in the state and Medical education Department running administrative control of associated hospitals are trapped in deep troubles of mismanagement, nepotism and corruption. Many other flagship healthcare programs like National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) are also practically in mess.
The enormity of mess within the state healthcare system cannot be evaluated in isolation and no single organization or entity can be held responsible. Over the period of time both state and private healthcare sectors had gone haywire and cannot be absolved of mismanagement and exploitation of gullible and distressed patients. At the cost of decaying state health sector private healthcare institutions and units are flourishing. Private health units of all sorts are mushrooming even in remote areas of the state, particularly in Kashmir valley. The two decades old turmoil also played its significant role in sullying the healthcare system. Government health units during turmoil suffered because of unruliness and widespread systemic corruption, while as the private sector’s callous attitude exploited the distressed coldheartedly. This unabated exploitation is going on under the nose of authorities even now.
In public healthcare sector for last sixty years, except SKIMS, our planners were unable to create any outstanding healthcare infrastructure of the reputation of SMGS hospital and SMHS. These two iconic healthcare institutions commissioned during autocratic rule of Maharaja still cater to the basic healthcare requirements of Jammu and Srinagar city even in this contemporary era of much advanced medical science. Unfortunately during last few decades these hospitals got vandalized and defaced because of ill conceived development and expansions plans of unqualified hospital engineering wing of the health department.
It will be unfair to overlook the substantial expansion in quality human resource development of health sector since 1960. And for the last two decades this growth has been enormous; but this brilliant talent goes waste in the absence of proper infrastructure and valued management. A cursory look at the human resource management of state healthcare departments will speak volumes about favoritism and corruption leading to disgruntlement at all levels. And this situation of dissatisfaction has created confusion among all ranks and cadres of human resource. While selecting and promoting administrators and other decision-making heads all norms are violated and selected few are considered for covet postings. This practice of nepotism not only encourages corruption but also takes toll on efficiency and professional competence. A simple RTI (Right to information) inquiry will reveal the murky face of health department and its allied sectors. The query will reveal how service rules were tailor-made to suit few and how promotions and elevations turn out to be more hopping than usual. The murkier practice had set a chain of corruption and malpractices, certainly with the protective patronage of political bosses and mentors. The preliminary inquiry at children’s hospital has substantiated the rot of mismanagement practiced by unduly elevated unscrupulous elements. Their tentacles within the spurious drug mafia and other bullying activities have revealed a plethora of greed and sullied hunger for power and authority, but ultimately at the cost of precious human life.
Instead of blame game and applying balm of damage control, government should come out with a tangible course of action about its healthcare system, both in public as well as private sector. If timely plan for taming the private healthcare sector is not contemplated well in time, in near future the existing state of public healthcare system will only worsen.