Lopsided policies, poor facilities hurting JK’s healthcare
Patients From Kashmir Make Beeline In Hospitals Outside The State
Srinagar, Feb 24: Lopsided government policies, inadequate health infrastructure, overburdened hospitals and lack of awareness about the competence of Kashmiri doctors are some of the factors compelling thousands of patients from the Valley to spend huge money on healthcare in private sector outside the State.
Experts rue that haphazard planning in the health sector is forcing the patients to seek “specialised” treatment outside state. “On papers health policies are very much there, but on ground these are nowhere. It results into chaos and confusion and with the result patients, medicos and hospital administration become hostile to each other. It has led to the failure of system,” a senior medico at Valley’s premier tertiary-care hospital SKIMS told Greater Kashmir.
Quoting an example he said, “In Kashmir you don’t have any kind of set-up which would act as a barrier or a check to a minor clinical problem from barging into intensive care set-up of a tertiary-care hospital. It happens at the cost of most sick patients. As such patients don’t get the specialised treatment in SKIMS due to burgeoning rush, patients prefer to go outside.”
He also complained that patients don’t want to spend in private sector in Kashmir. “Same patients who insist for meagre favours from local government health care facilities don’t hesitate to go on a spending spree in the name of treatment and investigations outside the state. This has almost led to a mafia-like situation wherein the medicos from outside the state arrive in Kashmir and entice the needy patients through catchy advertisements. They charge 400 to 500 percent higher fee than the local specialists and ask these patients to approach them in Delhi at their private hospitals for further consultation.” he added.
A senior administrator in SMHS Hospital on condition of anonymity blamed politicians for the mess. “To safeguard their vote bank, they propagate and nurture a kind of atmosphere which is completely in contrast with the ground realities. Even US government isn’t able to provide free quality medicine, treatment and related facilities to the masses. How can our politicians achieve this miracle? This is deceit with the downtrodden and suffering people,” he said.
“In the name of free medicines, patients are being provided sub-standard substances in government hospitals. For example an antibiotic, anti-hypertensive or anti-diabetic tablet, that costs Rs 10 in market, is being purchased at Rs one in the hospitals. Most of the times the chemical lab analysis certificate enclosed with the hospital supplies are managed without even subjecting life-saving drugs to tests through an impartial agency,” he revealed.
“As sub-standard drugs have no impact on the condition of patients, it provides fertile ground to outside medicos to trap the patients in the name of advanced treatment,” he added.
The Director SKIMS, Dr Abdul Hamid Zarger corroborated it. “Over crowding, prolonged waiting lists and non-availability of investigation like PET scan are some of the reasons which forces patients to go outside for treatment. We have huge waiting list due to which patients sometimes seek an alternative.”
“If tertiary care hospital receives only referral cases, the load would come down by one third,” he added.
However, according to sources, even SKIMS is playing politics with its sister hospital JVC Bemina and is not allowing it to develop as an independent institution. “Given its location and easy accessibility JVC Bemina could cater to a huge population, but the SKIMS authorities are not allowing the hospital to develop as they feel insecure,” a JVC faculty member told Greater Kashmir, on condition of anonymity. He said around Rs 9 crore, earmarked for the development of the hospital last fiscal, were allowed to lapse due to the partisan and callous attitude of the SKIMS authorities. “If medicos themselves play politics with healthcare, what can we expect from the government,” he complained.
Regarding sub-standard drugs being supplied in hospitals, he said, “At SKIMS we have adopted a new drug procurement policy. We don’t go for tendering. For every drug HoDs identify 3-10 best companies and we directly call for quotations from them. This is the only way we can improve the situation.”
However, Dr Zarger also stressed need to control the quality of drugs in market.
A senior doctor of Health department said that government should introduce health insurance scheme in Kashmir. “Instead of spending huge sums in the name of providing free drugs and treatment, government should introduce a social scheme by providing health insurance to every individual. It won’t cost as much so-called free treatment at hospitals costs and would give security to people,” he suggested.
Head of Oncology Department Apollo Hospital Delhi, Dr Sameer Koul, agreed that lack of infrastructure was forcing Kashmiri patients to go outside the state for treatment. “Linear accelerator for radio therapy, PET scan for diagnosis and staging of cancer and other very essential equipments aren’t available in Kashmir hospitals. In government sector equipment hasn’t been upgraded for more than 20-years. But government hospital can’t be expected to have this type of equipment.”
He stressed for Public-Private Partnership in “sincere terms” for development for health sector in Kashmir. “If you want to have a good hospital, it needs investment in the range of Rs 50-200 crores. If the investor isn’t provided land by the government at an appropriate place and bureaucratic hurdles aren’t cleared, why would anybody invest such a huge money,” he said.
Dr Koul, who is also president of Breast Cancer Patients Benefit Foundation, said that violence isn’t the reason that people aren’t investing in health care sector in Kashmir. “Government should have invited local Kashmiris who are already in health care sector running nursing homes and small hospitals and encouraged them to invest. They should be given collaborations, land and clearances without any hurdles. There are people who are waiting for clearance for years,” he revealed.
He said that infrastructure doesn’t mean constructing huge buildings. “Real issue is manpower. Government has never invested in training of manpower. Hundreds of crores of rupees are being spent on rural health mission without the benefits reaching to grass roots level,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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