A spotlight on rural healthcare

The J&K government has set itself on the mission to strengthen healthcare facilities in far-off areas to ease the burden on City hospitals
Representational Picture
Representational PictureFile/ GK

The Jammu and Kashmir government has put a spotlight on rural healthcare with an aim to decrease the burden of referrals on the hospitals in towns and cities.

Over the past many years, the hospitals and government medical colleges would receive referral cases owing to the non-availability of the health centres or healthcare facilities in the rural areas.

The unnecessary referrals would always overburden the doctors and paramedics at premiere hospitals in the City as the patients would not get treatment for their ailments in district hospitals.

But now, the Government of India has pumped a whopping amount of money and the J&K government has also set up scores of health and wellness centres which cater to the rural areas which has also resulted in decrease of the referral cases.

Nowadays, the government has upgraded the primary health centres to such a level that the facility tackles safe delivery of pregnant women besides providing treatment to other ailments as well.

The government has established different departments in district and sub-district hospitals in order to provide better health care facilities to all sorts of ailments.

As per the official figures, the J&K government has established more than 2200 Health and Wellness Centres (H&WC) besides releasing funding worth Rs 2800 crore in order to strengthen the rural health care centres and augment the infrastructure as well. The official figures reveal that around 2224 Health and Wellness Centres have been established in Jammu and Kashmir during the last four years.

Notably, the government has established 392 health and wellness centres in both the aspirational districts of J&K. These include 209 centres in Kupwara district while 183 such centres have been established in Baramulla district as well.

The administration by the end of the current year has set the target to complete the setting up of 2742 health and wellness centres in Jammu and Kashmir.

The official figures reveal that the funds worth Rs 2897.27 crore were released by the Central Government in the last five years under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to raise the health infrastructure at rural level.

Also, an amount of Rs 545.65 crores were released as annual funding by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2017-18 followed by Rs 547.05 crore in 2018-19 as well.

Also, an amount of Rs 692.49 and Rs 656.39 was released in the year 2019-20 and 2020-21 under the scheme to enhance the facilities at rural health centres.

In the year 2021-22, an amount of Rs 455.69 crore was released by the centre under NHM for Jammu and Kashmir UT.

The sole purpose of the continuous funding to the J&K aims at making rural healthcare facilities at par with the facilities available in district hospitals and tertiary care health institutes.

The way the government is releasing funding for up gradation of the rural healthcare institutes besides the district and sub district hospitals, time is not far when these institutes will be self sufficient to cater to all sorts of ailments.

Over the last three years the government has installed high end equipment in the primary health centres and the capacity of sub district and district hospitals was done on a large scale as well.

At primary level, the main focus remains that these primary health centres can prove as preventive, primitive and curative centres.

Notably, the J&K Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha this year inaugurated several facilities like dialysis centres, geriatric wards in almost every district hospital.

Also, ICUs and separate pediatric wards have been established in district hospitals while separate gynecology wards and other facilities have been set up as well.

Earlier this year, the J&K LG inaugurated 10-bed state-of-the-art Palliative, Geriatric Care Wards in all districts of J&K.

He said the landmark step bridges a decades-old void in J&K's healthcare system by offering dedicated facilities to elderly and critically-ill ageing patients, ensuring their dignity and quality of life.

Notably, the need for accessible, effective geriatrics and palliative care had grown over the past several decades but remained unaddressed in J&K.

By taking such measures brought new reforms for developing a balanced healthcare ecosystem that promotes social equality and ensures easily accessible quality health facilities for all.

As per the official figures , new infrastructure has been built at a cost of Rs 7177 crore. Around 140 projects have been completed by spending Rs 881 crore to strengthen basic health facilities in all the districts.

Notably, Rs 7873 crore has been allocated for the health sector in this year’s budget which is expected to create unprecedented health facilities in J&K UT.

The upgrading and improving healthcare facilities at district level was evident during the first and second wave of Covid-19 in J&K. There were very less referrals of Covid-19 patients to tertiary care hospitals besides the capacity of wards was also enhanced at a large scale as well due to which the covid positive patients were admitted in the concerned sub-district or district hospitals.

Also, vaccination and covid-19 testing was done at every health institute. Even the campaign of door to door testing and vaccination was also started as well.

In the last three years the government has been tirelessly working to improve healthcare facilities at grass root level while efforts are made to upgrade and equip some primary health institutes with modern machinery.

If the mission is accomplished on a war footing, it will result in lowering the demand of secondary and tertiary care hospitals and will cater to all types of ailments in rural areas.

While the government has put in a lot of effort to upgrade the healthcare facilities in rural areas, the Government Medical Colleges and other district and sub-district hospitals should be taken as a priority to enhance the infrastructure and other facilities which will ultimately decrease the burden on premiere hospitals in the city.

The government has rightly set itself on the mission to ease patients and provide them health facilities at their doorsteps. The health authorities will do well to keep their focus sustained on rural healthcare so that the rush to health facilities in cities and towns is lessened with each passing day. By strengthening rural healthcare, the authorities can focus on enhancing tertiary-care facilities in cities and towns for the benefit of patients.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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