Augmenting Health Care

India is a developing country with a disquieting societal platform. The annual spending on the health care sector is insufficient with a disproportionate doctors-to-population ratio and few medical facilities, especially in rural areas, exacerbated by the regular absence of the appointed staff in remote areas. It is a fact that the annual passing out of doctors numbers is minuscule against the required strength, simply insufficient to sustain the existing medical facilities. Present GoI took it as a challenge and handled the situation with equanimity, parsing the available data, introspection, critiquing factual situations, planning the way outs and started implementing these plans step by step. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir was even more precarious, with limited medical colleges, few hospitals and whatever were there more referral hospitals with insufficient equipment and staff. The situation was alarming to the extent that GMC Jammu was the only hospital somehow catering to Jammu Division, but that too with limited resources. The situation in Kashmir Division was quite better with SKIMS, Bone and Joint Hospital, Lal Ded Maternity hospital and even private medical colleges. Two AIIMS got assigned to Jammu and Srinagar and many GMCs have been opened, plan for at least one in each district. The seats in existing medical colleges have been increased substantially and new PG streams added. This resulted in a big relief for the main hospitals of both Jammu as well as Srinagar and practically much to the relief of the general public. No doubt the health sector of Jammu and Kashmir has improved by leaps and bounds. AB-PMJAY has further eased the life of patients as with one Ayushman Card even major surgeries are being done at hundreds of private hospitals, all free of cost, with not a single penny taken from patients. In addition to this, a feedback mechanism is there to cross-check the vague claims and medicare facilities offered. LG Administration has transformed the process of even medical supplies procurement process to ensure all hospitals have enough medicine stocks and equipment for better services. Time-to-time audits are being done to ascertain and evaluate the infra and medical facilities being offered. Certain hospital Medical Superintendents’ have taken personal initiatives to augment the existing services, Gandhi Nagar Hospital is providing X-Ray and ultrasound tests to radiologists on mobile phones for immediate reports and consultations and the same hospital has started an Aadhar facility for newborn babies before discharge, a small but much-appreciated value addition. DHS of both divisions are trying to further improvise the mechanism to get the best out of the present infrastructure.
There is always scope for improvement as Super Speciality Hospital is still without emergency and GMC Jammu still has one outdated MRI machine catering to the whole Jammu Division. Delays in completion of Bones & Joint Hospital and Cancer Institute are serious matters and timely completion of all health projects will be much appreciated. The process of referrals must be made stringent and accountability has to be fixed on account of this as this puts an extra burden on city GMCs. GMC Jammu and Gandhi Nagar Hospital has the unique distinction of almost one thousand daily OPDs, a record in itself. Overall facilities for patients and relatives need many upgrades, especially in Gandhi Nagar Hospital. All said and done onerous efforts are required to further streamline the healthcare of Jammu and Kashmir.
Evening clinics in all government hospitals and health centres will bring much relief to the poor and downtrodden. Capping of private doctors’ fees and a ban on working Government doctors’ private practice are much-needed reforms to be undertaken on priority. Efforts are on but the time has come to further raise the level of healthcare facilities.