J&K to have 2 medical cities, 1 each at Jammu and Srinagar

In a bid to exploit medical tourism potential of J&K, government has started process for setting up two medical cities, one each at Jammu and Srinagar, Chief Secretary BVR Subramanium said today.

The state government has identified land for medical cities in the peripheries of Srinagar and Jammu, Subramanium said while speaking at the inaugural session of the 23rd post-graduate research presentation of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) at SKICC here today.

He said the State has immense potential for medical tourism in terms of landscape, weather and medical expertise. “However, it is the infrastructure that is lacking. Government has worked out a plan to address that. The Finance Secretary and the Health Secretary have come out with a healthcare investment policy,” he said.

The CS said that land for these cities had been identified “somewhere outside Srinagar and Jammu”. The government was banking on the expertise of SKIMS to power the plan, he said adding that these cities will be developed to become ‘global centres for medical tourism’ as the cost of medical interventions in India and including Kashmir, was one-tenth of the costs in other countries.

“What we need is regular flights from Srinagar to Singapore and Dubai and the world will come here for medical tourism,” he said.

Giving a timeline for the proposal, he said, the government was looking at “2-3 years” to achieve this goal and an investment summit had already been planned this October. “You people can also set up your little hospitals in these medical cities,” he said while addressing the SKIMS faculty.

He said the state had made “unmatched strides” in health sector in the past one year. “In one year the MBBS intake capacity has increased from 500 to 900 in J&K. Now we may get permission to add another 300 seats through reservation scheme for economically challenged students. And if (GMC) Doda gets MCI permission, we might have a total of 1350 MBBS seats,” he said.

He said that the progress in health sector of J&K was “unparalleled with any other state”.

He commended director SKIMS, Prof Omar Javed Shah for bringing “some semblance of normalcy” to the Institute. “When I joined, there was not a single day when SKIMS was not in news, and for wrong reasons…in the headlines, front pages… of Greater Kashmir, (Kashmir) Uzma and Rising Kashmir,” he said. He added that during that period, he was spending at least two hours everyday to do “fire-fighting to bring some sanity and balance in this place”.

While 11 ANM and GNM colleges had been sanctioned, he said that 10 more were in pipeline in order to address shortage of paramedics in State.