Ailing health sector
Health has a fundamental role in the growth of a nation. An ailing nation cannot taste the fruits of development and prosperity. In democratic societies an obligation is cast upon the government to provide for the healthcare of its people. Being considered as the primary human right, health has been accorded due importance by the Constitution through Article 21, which stresses upon state governments to safeguard the health and nutritional well being of the people. Given its critical role, the Health Industry has been conferred with the infrastructure status under section 10(23G) of the Income Act.
In J&K, while the private health sector is stuck for over years now in its nascent stage, the government healthcare system is marred by inefficiency and unaccountability. Even as a major reason for the government health sector in J&K not picking up has been low public investment, yet there are many other grave problems that have been largely lost sight of. It is sad that while governments in other states have made strides in the health sector through public-private-partnership mode, J&K continues with its archaic system. It is not that we don’t have a network of healthcare facilities in public sector. The problem is that these public institutions have not been able to deliver with efficiency. Little wonder then, a large proportion of population continues to suffer and die from infectious diseases, pregnancy and childbirth-related complications and malnutrition. With over 70 per cent of the state budget being consumed by salaries and interest payments, there is little that remains for upgrading our moribund health sector. It is a pity that against the norms fixed by the World Health Organization, J&K spends not more than one per cent of its GDP on health sector. We dish out little crumbs for medicines, equipment and maintenance of existing services. Other major problems that afflict our public healthcare systems include over-centralization of planning and control of resources, lack of meaningful quality standards and quality assurance systems. There are imbalances in rural-urban/primary-tertiary care dichotomies, archaic management systems, etc.
It is true that the government does not have enough financial resources to upgrade its healthcare system. But then there are ways it can utilize, like many other states in India have, to see its healthcare system becoming a sophisticated one. To begin with, the state needs to put its act together to take full advantage of the centrally sponsored schemes including the much-hailed National Rural Health Mission. It is no secret that we have been unable over the years to spend the funds allocated under NRHM. With the result, where this scheme has changed the entire complexion of health system in many other states, we have not been able to taste fruits of this scheme.
Secondly, the state can also devise its own short as well as long-term plans to consolidate its health sector in J&K. Some of the things that the state can begin with are that it can bring about accountability in this sector, which hinges on changing the unsatisfactory working conditions for the people working in far-flung areas in J&K. The state needs to explore the ways for upgrading its huge network of public healthcare institutions in the state. Once these institutions are upgraded it will make them reliable for the people, which would help plug the gaps in the referral linkages. The government can also experiment intermediation through Health Volunteers, as is also provided under National Health Policy, 2002, having appropriate knowledge, simple skills and requisite technologies. Similarly, it can establish a well-worked out referral system to ensure that patient load at the higher levels of the hierarchy is not needlessly burdened by those who can be treated at the decentralized level. Interestingly, the next year budget has proposed an investment of Rs 1757 crore for improving health infrastructure. One would only expect this amount is utilized during the year.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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