Poverty of Healthcare

While the world is making strides in healthcare solutions, both in public and private sectors, Kashmir seems to be living in tatters.

While the world is making strides in healthcare solutions, both in public and private sectors, Kashmir seems to be living in tatters.

The sorry state of our public healthcare can be gauged from this that Kashmir's lone children's hospital in Srinagar is without an operation theatre! The hospital, if it really can be called so, has no pediatric surgeon or pediatric anesthetic!

The bed capacity of the hospital has gone down to just 92 for pediatric care, something that represents one of the worst patient-bed ratios in the world. As per Census-2011 Kashmir's child population is over 20 lakh including over 10 lakh children in the age group of 0-6.

The ambulances the hospital has are not fitted with the life support system. When the hospital is lacking in critical healthcare infrastructure and equipment like an operation theatre, it would perhaps be too much to ask for ambulances fitted with life support system! No wonder then that over 500 deaths were reported in the hospital in 2012 owing to alleged mismanagement and negligence on part of the then administration. The condition of other hospitals in Kashmir, though not so terrible, is not encouraging either. The private healthcare system available in Kashmir lacks both in critical infrastructure and sophisticated facilities.

No wonder then that Kashmir is every year drained of billions of rupees people from the Valley spend in outside healthcare facilities. Had the state encouraged investments into the health sector, it would have helped this economy at least in two ways: First, the money that we lose to other regional economies for availing ourselves of better medical services, would have been retained in Kashmir, which in turn could ensure the development and growth of our indigenous healthcare sector. Second, a strong healthcare sector in Kashmir could have earned us a good amount of outside earnings.

In the face of our abysmally poor healthcare facilities, government ad nauseam claim of creating health tourism in Kashmir seems to be a cruel joke. If the government really wants to strengthen this economy, healthcare sector holds a key. Besides strengthening its healthcare facilities, government would have to play a role of facilitator for encouraging massive private investments into this sector. Just imagine what an investment of a few hundred crores of rupees in this sector could mean for this economy. Is anybody listening?

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Greater Kashmir
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