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Majority of health institutions in J&K grappling with acute shortage of docs

Tall claims on providing quality healthcare turn out to be farce

*Situation worst in districts with nearly 50% vacancies

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 10: The tall claims of the PDP-BJP Coalition Government about providing quality healthcare facilities to the people have turned out to be farce as majority of the health institutions in Jammu and Kashmir have been grappling with acute shortage of doctors. The situation is worst in the hospitals at district headquarters and in remote areas where vacancies of doctors are ranging between 40% and 50% thereby making it clear that Department of Health and Medical Education has failed to make any substantial progress in achieving its vision and objectives.
The economic development of any State is directly related with the improvement in the living standard of people in general and health services in particular as such the Department of Health and Medical Education is required to promote health care for the people by focusing on infrastructure development and availability of sufficient manpower particularly doctors.
Though tall claims are being made by the PDP-BJP Government about bringing spectacular change in the health system yet the fact remains that majority of the health institutions in Jammu and Kashmir are reeling under acute shortage of doctors as well as para-medical staff thereby establishing that Department of Health and Medical Education has failed to make any substantial progress towards achieving the goal of providing accessible and quality healthcare, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
The prevailing scenario vis-à-vis availability of doctors can be gauged from the official figures which reveal that the doctor-patient ratio in Jammu and Kashmir is 1:1880 against the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) of 1:1000.
Moreover, the figures reveal that against sanctioned strength of 7514 doctors—2192 in Medical Education Sector, 4617 in Health Services and 705 in Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) at present only 5036 doctors are in position—-1482 in Medical Education Sector, 2964 in Health Services and 590 in Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) thereby leaving 2478 posts of doctors vacant.
Similarly, against sanctioned strength of 18436 para-medical staff—4611 in Medical Education Sector, 13079 in Health Services and 746 in ISM, at present 14686 para-medics are in position-2648 in Medical Education Sector, 11404 in Health Services and 634 in ISM thereby leaving 3750 posts vacant.
Though almost all the health institutions are grappling with shortage of doctors and para-medics, the situation is worst in hospitals at district headquarters and in remote areas where nearly 50% posts of doctors are lying vacant because of failure of the Health and Medical Education Department to ensure timely filling up of vacancies.
As per the figures, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, against 2003 sanctioned posts of doctors in 10 districts of Jammu region 855 are presently lying vacant and there are 1148 doctors. In Doda district against sanctioned posts of 211 doctors at present there are only 72 doctors while as in Kishtwar district there are only 37 doctors against sanctioned posts of 98 doctors.
Similarly, in Poonch district there are only 74 doctors against sanctioned posts of 205 doctors while as in Rajouri district there are only 99 doctors against sanctioned posts of 243 doctors. There are only 48 doctors against sanctioned posts of 120 doctors in Ramban district and 43 doctors against sanctioned posts of 103 doctors in Reasi district. In Udhampur district, there are only 96 doctors against sanctioned posts of 187 doctors.
Against 2364 sanctioned posts of doctors in 12 districts of Kashmir division including Leh and Kargil, there are 1638 doctors and 847 posts of doctors are lying vacant. The situation is worst in Leh and Kargil districts as compared to other districts of Kashmir division. As against 163 sanctioned posts of doctors in Kargil there are only 57 doctors while as in Leh district there are only 82 doctors against sanctioned strength of 133 doctors.
What to talk of health institutions at the district level and in remote areas of the State, the Department of Health and Medical Education has also failed to provide sufficient manpower in the Government Medical Colleges and Super Specialty Hospitals, which otherwise remain first priority for specialized treatment for the patients from any part of the State.
This can be gauged from the fact that against sanctioned strength of 392 faculty members, 163 posts are vacant in the Government Medical College Jammu thereby not only affecting healthcare but also medical education. Similarly, against sanctioned strength of 536 faculty in the Government Medical College Srinagar including Super Specialty, 280 posts are lying vacant.
In the Indira Gandhi Government Dental College Jammu against sanctioned strength of 95 posts, 27 posts are still lying vacant. The situation is worrisome particularly at the level of Professors and Associate Professors as against sanctioned strength of 9 Professors four posts are lying vacant and against sanctioned strength of 9 Associate Professors five posts are lying vacant.
How the authorities of the Health and Medical Education Department can make tall claims about providing quality and accessible healthcare facilities to the people with such a dismal scenario remains a million dollar question.
“Every time when the issue of shortage of manpower is raised at any forum the ball is put in the court of recruiting agencies-Public Services Commission and Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board but no serious efforts were ever made to exert pressure on these recruiting agencies to expedite the recruitment process so that real objective and vision of the Health and Medical Education Department is achieved”, sources remarked.

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