In 2022, the Jammu and Kashmir government announced a series of initiatives to improve the healthcare infrastructure and increase access to quality healthcare services in the region. This includes the establishment of a new medical college in Jammu, the setting up of at least five trauma centers, the establishment of a super-specialty hospital, the construction of new health centers and the upgrading of existing health facilities.
The government also approved 22 investment offers totalling Rs 4400 crore for the development of medical facilities. Besides that, the government ordered transfer of 468 kanal of land to build medical cities in both Kashmir and Jammu divisions.
The other developments include shifting of GB Panth Hospital to newly constructed 500 bedded Children Hospital Bemina. The work on the hospital was initially started in 2013 but the then Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in October 2015 gave it an extension and laid the foundation stone for a 500-bedded Mother-Child Hospital.
In 2019, the government accorded sanction to the conversion of the 200-bedded Maternity Hospital and the 300-bedded Pediatric Hospital at Bemina, Srinagar into a full-fledged 500-bedded Children’s Hospital. The wait finally came to an end and the hospital was made functional, which has better facilities and space.
On programme implementation, administration made it mandatory for doctors and nurses working in government as well as private sector to register themselves on the Hospital Professional Registry (HPR) portal of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
This is mandatory for those doctors and nurses who are registered with J&K Medical Council and Nursing Council. The digital ecosystem that the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) aims to create has two major core building blocks of Health Facility Registry (HFR) and Health Professionals Registry (HPR).
In order to revolutionize the healthcare system, Department of Surgery, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar virtually trained the surgeons for Robotic assisted surgeries in the valley. A workshop on Robotic Surgery was organised by GMC Srinagar in collaboration with Open-Source Research Organization on Thursday in which more than 100 surgeons from the valley participated. The purpose of this workshop was to sanitize faculty of surgeons and give them first-hand exposure to the robotic assisted surgeries.
In a major development, a team of doctors at Super Speciality Hospital, Government Medical College Srinagar performed two kidney transplantation surgeries in Srinagar.
On October 13, 2022, Kidney transplants of two patients from Kupwara and Bandipora were performed by a team of doctors led by the Head of the Department for Urology, Super Speciality Hospital, Shireen Bagh.
Besides that, a team of doctors at Super Speciality Hospital, Government Medical College Srinagar performed endoscopic ultrasonography-guided biliary drainage (EUS-BD) or Choledochoduodenostomy (CDD) for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir.
The biggest challenge in Kashmir which emerged after COVID-19 was the prevalence of mental health issues among youth. As per the doctors about 11.3 percent of the adult population suffers from mental illness in Kashmir. For that, IMHANS Kashmir started the Tele-MANAS cell for providing free tele-mental health assistance, particularly to people in remote areas. A toll-free 24×7 helpline number (14416) has been set up across the country including J&K, allowing callers to avail of services.
Another issue which will be the main focus of administration as well as doctors will be the drug menace in the valley. As per the 10-district addiction survey, Kashmir has around 70,000 substance users, and 52,000 people are using IV Heroin. Doctors said that the surge in drug abuse cases is alarming and there should be some serious steps to curb this menace besides focusing on youngsters’ mental health in Kashmir.
Last but not the least, the covid-19 threat again emerged in 2022, with a surge in cases in India and other parts of the world. For that, the Jammu and Kashmir government took a slew of measures to prepare before another wave could hit the UT. Health institutions across Jammu and Kashmir conducted mock drills to check their preparedness to deal with any situation due to coronavirus.
The drills were conducted as part of a nationwide exercise to check the readiness of health facilities to deal with any surge in cases. The exercise included checking of oxygen generation plants installed at different locations, availability of machinery, equipment, drugs, diagnostics and other covid logistics.
Now in 2023, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has to put in a lot of efforts to further strengthen the health sector. Be it filling up of vacancies in different hospitals to stopping covid from spreading and turning deadlier, the government has a lot to ponder about. Besides that, more and more stringent rules need to be in place to act against the drug suppliers and peddlers to stop this menace.
Hopefully, in 2023, the government will take more steps to strengthen the health system.
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.