“Collapsed healthcare, shamed hippocratic oath prime reasons”

Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed
It was a cold winter night of 2004 when my father suffered brain haemorrhage at his shop in Jammu. He was rushed to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital Jammu where doctors attending to him told us that the patient has slipped into coma and if he survives even with a paralytic condition it will be a great deal. After having hospitalised for about a fortnight when I didn’t see any improvement in his condition I took my father to AIIMS, Delhi at my own risk. Doctor’s words in AIIMS left us spellbound rather speechless when he said, “had you brought him here within 72 hours of haemorrhage we would have made him recover after surgical intervention”. This confidence was shown by Dr Mehta renowned neurosurgeon of the country.
If this episode is not enough to justify demand for AIIMS in Jammu let me cite another example where angiography was conducted on one of my friend’s father in Jammu on a similar cold winter night in absence of a doctor. The doctor when asked to visit Jammu hospital and attend to the patient who had suffered severe heart attack had at that time asked his assistant to carry on and manage the affairs till next morning. Unfortunately, before this doctor could visit hospital next morning the patient was dead. I am sure this doctor was also administered Hippocratic Oath which was shamed.
What would you say when an orthopaedic surgeon very confidently gives incision to a patient for hip replacement but fails to fit the kit brought by her sons from England. While the patient was still in theatre, attendants are rushed to city shops to fetch a locally made hip replacement kit with which the doctor is quite familiar. The patient catches severe infection and finally dies after about fifteen days of this critical surgery. If this is how we are to be treated in Jammu then who says we don’t need an institute of repute like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jammu.
Uproar in Jammu over AIIMS being shifted to Srinagar is getting worst with each passing day and the way coalition government is handling the situation is still condemnable. Even if this regional bias is kept at a bay, Jammu still needs AIIMS only because healthcare system here has completely collapsed and many government doctors by indulging in private practices have shamed their Hippocratic Oath as well. The All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMSs) are a group of autonomous public medical colleges of higher education which have come to existence by an Act of Parliament as institutions of national importance and not by mere press briefing of health ministers like Ch Lal Singh.
Instead of befooling people by such tactics, the coalition partners who have been pushed towards wall in their own bastions must ensure establishment of full-fledged AIIMS in Jammu. Can this minister ensure that from next academic session Jammu AIIMS will have about 300 more seats? Can he assure that with the establishment of this AIIMS which he announced doctor-patient ratio of 1:1000 will be achieved in our state? Can he assure that other than funds there will also be an increase in PG seats in the state or for that matter this institute will be governed by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Act, 1956.
For the information of state health minister and his colleagues who are trying take people of Jammu for a ride, it was after the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2012 introduced in the Lok Sabha on 27 August 2012 and in Rajya Sabha on September 3, 2012 that six new AIIMS  like institutes were sanctioned including one for Jammu and Kashmir State. The AIIMS (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed on 4 September 2012.
In a state where successive chief ministers, army of ministers, bureaucrats, separatist leaders, rich and influential prefer to fly to Delhi and even abroad for their treatments we have been left at the mercy of such doctors who have shamed their profession from time to time. I am not brazenly painting every doctor with same brush but the incidents mentioned above are indicative enough to explain prevailing healthcare system in our state. The referral system is never going to come to an end in this state which means entire load is on GMC which has almost collapsed.
The record available says that every Health Minister in Jammu and Kashmir has preferred to develop healthcare facilities in his/her constituency than the entire state. While keeping high regards for doctors of high integrity I reiterate that in several cases patients known to ministers, their personal staff or any other influential who’s who of the state get preferential treatment while others are left to fend for themselves. In a state where the Government has not been able to make fully functional the cardiology department or give people specialised treatment against cancer, people are being promised AIIMS which is nowhere in the agenda of Centre.
Knowingly that healthcare system in the state has collapsed army of doctors from other states everyday descent here in Jammu and take with them patients only to be admitted in their respective hospitals only to make money. Doctors from other states are coming here in Jammu even for a simple gallbladder surgery that can very well be done here. This is lack of confidence of our people on our healthcare system and a nexus of local doctors with those coming from other states that people are being made to pay through their noses.
Amritsar, Delhi, Chandigarh and even Pathankot have become favourite health care destinations – all because of our collapsed healthcare system. People who are being told that AIIMS has been established in Jammu are made to pay lakhs of rupees on tests in other states what to talk of surgeries. Be it medical supplies, establishment of Ayurvedic system of medicine or Unani Medicine or for that matter pathological labs or diagnostic centres there exists a nexus between hospital authorities and those sitting at the helm of affairs. In the given conditions those opposed to AIIMS in Jammu are no less than connivers and Killers.
The state lacks a political will to provide better healthcare facilities to people of the state. Instead of misleading people of Jammu, coalition partners must join hands with AIIMS Coordination Committee and convince Delhi not Jammu about establishing this premier institute here in plains as well. Several people have died in Jammu for want of medical facilities and this is high time AIIMS must be established here so that people’s faith in the healthcare system is restored and corrupt who have spoiled the entire system for their personal gains and are being patronised by their superiors nailed.
(The author  is practicing lawyer in J&K High Court)

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