161 nursing homes, pvt clinics operating illegally in J&K

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, July 22:  In sheer violation of the Supreme Court directives, over 161 private nursing homes  and clinical establishments are operating illegally in the State while several such units which the State Health authorities had sealed during surprise raids/ checking few months back, have again started their activities under the nose of  the concerned authorities.
Not only this, the banned sex-determination  activity in many clinics is thriving clandestinely despite strict instructions by the Ministry of  Health and even the surgeries are being performed in the illegally operating clinics/ nursing homes  by the serving doctors of the Health and Medical Education Department. Worst is the condition in Rajouri and Poonch districts where raids were conducted by a special team from the Directorate of Health Services with the support of local administration in the recent past, but some of the units again managed to start their activities.
Highly placed sources in the Health Department told Excelsior that as on date total 1530 private nursing homes and clinical establishments/ Labs/ ultrasound units  are existing in the State.  Out of the total, 944 such units exist in Kashmir region while 586 in Jammu region.
Out of the total such units in Jammu region, 29 are nursing homes. As on today, 86 such establishments including 10 nursing homes are unregistered. Many of them have  applied for the fresh registration to the Directorate of Health Services concerned. Similarly in Kashmir region, out of the total 944 such establishments, 75 are unregistered, or in other words operating illegally.
As per the senior officials concerned, majority of them have applied for the fresh registration and lack the required norms and other much needed formalities. There are total 41 private nursing homes operating in Kashmir as on today and 50% of them are said to be operating illegally or still to get registered with the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir.
The sources further said that during 2010 the Supreme Court in a petition had directed the State Health authorities to go for fresh registration of  private nursing home and allied establishments and a six months time was accorded to complete the process. It had also given 25% relaxation in criteria for already existing/ old  nursing homes. But unfortunately, even after the lapse of  nearly three years, the State Health authorities have failed to provide registration or act against such illegally operating units at the cost of the health and life of the people of the State.
It has also been established that there is no provision of  proper disposal of  bio-medical waste in many nursing homes, privates laboratories and clinics. The State Pollution Control Board and the State Health authorities have yet to awake and take cognizance of  the matter.
Giving some more details the sources indicated that even such units especially in Rajouri and Poonch districts, against whom action was taken and were sealed, managed to carry on their activity. In at least three unregistered units in Rajouri, the Government doctors perform surgeries under the nose of CMO and Medical Superintendent of  District hospital. Some ultrasound units are also being run by the Government doctors in the area while own machines in hospitals have not been put to use or not got repaired deliberately for personal interests. Same is the condition at Mendhar and Surankote, the sources added.
Two senior members of the Nursing Homes Association on the request of being not quoted alleged that mainly problem lies with the directorates concerned. They alleged that many unit holders had applied for the fresh registration about 3-4 years back. Even after the completion of the required formalities, the inspections are not conducted  by the designated team members of the Directorate of  Health for months together. In case of some Nursing homes / clinics recommendations were made by the inspecting teams but final orders are yet awaited from the concerned heads. The delaying tactics adopted by the officials concerned for their vested motives is apparently the main reason behind the delay in getting the units registered. They also held two former directors ( Health) responsible for the delay in this regard.  After the apex court verdict, there should not be any delay or violation on the part of Government servants concerned, they maintained.
Minister Incharge Health, Shabir Ahmed Khan when contacted regarding illegal operation of  private clinics and nursing homes in his constituency- Rajouri besides other parts of the State, said that teams from the directorate in Kashmir and Jammu conduct raids and checkings in such units. He said that he will issue fresh directions to both the directors in Jammu and Srinagar to take cognizance of the matter and act against illegally operating such units. When asked about the violation of   SC order and delay being caused in inspection of premises of such units which have applied for issuance of registration certificates, Mr Khan said the process has been expedited  by both the directorates now and several units were issued registration recently. He assured to take action  against such Government doctors initiating private practice in such unauthorised private clinics/ nursing homes.

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