Minister of Health and Medical Education, Choudhary Lal Singh on Sunday said that new Pediatric Hospital for Kashmir was 'being planned' but refused to give specifics of the plan.
While inaugurating the CT Scan facility at the GB Pant Hospital here, the Health Minister reiterated that maternity and children hospital need to come up at the same place. Without getting into any details about the location, funding and time-frame for the pediatric hospital construction, he said that mother and child should not be admitted in distantly located hospitals."
He later told Greater Kashmir that very soon there would be a "breakthrough" for the Pediatric healthcare in Kashmir.
A senior doctor said that the health minister's obsession with coupling the pediatric and maternity health was marred with misconception. "Maternity healthcare facilities need to house Neonatal health facility. But pediatric hospital is meant to cater to all children, from age one day to eighteen years. Why is a maternity hospital needed with this children and adolescent catering facility?" asked the doctor.
A decade after Pediatric Hospital was 'temporarily' relocated to space and infrastructure-constrained GB Pant Hospital, no steps have been taken by the government to construct a modern tertiary care pediatric healthcare facility in Kashmir.
The government had in 2012 announced that the new Pediatric Hospital would be set up in Bemina, the same site where the building structure of a maternity hospital has been erected. However, no work was carried out on the Pediatric Hospital at this location even after three years of this announcement.
Abandoning this dormant project, the cabinet in October last year had decided that the Pediatric Hospital will be set up in Dewan Bagh area of Karan Nagar, adjacent to Government Medical College Srinagar. But no men or machinery were put to work at the site.
While the inadequacies in infrastructure have negatively impacted the pediatric healthcare delivery at GB Pant Hospital for a decade, the government instead of fast-tracking the procurement of funds for the new hospital has further 'muddled the discourse' by adding one more 'option' of locating pediatric hospital adjacent to LD Hospital.
The location is important and needs to be researched well before executing the project, but a decade is too long a time for this," said a doctor at GB Pant Hospital.
A source privy to the health ministry affairs said that the government is not giving any special attention to the new pediatric hospital.
"Even the executing agency of the project has not been finalized yet and while some officials are supporting the project execution by JKPCC, some are lobbying for R&B to grab the project," said the source.
GMC officials said that while 16 kanals of land had been allocated for the Pediatric Hospital construction, the apathy and delay on the part of the government to set the project rolling is resulting in encroachment into the identified plot.
"A graveyard is coming up where the hospital was supposedly to be constructed," said an official.
Principal GMC Srinagar Dr. Rafeeq Ahmed Pampori said that GMC was putting aside funds for the project. "Last year Rs. 1 crore was set aside for pediatric hospital and similarly, this year too more than a Rs. 1 crore has been put into that account from our side."
He added that the architectural design of the hospital was also finalized years back. "It is a modern hospital design by a Delhi based hospital architecture specialist firm," he said.
He however refused to comment on the various 'options' of pediatric hospital location in Srinagar.