GMC Hospital sans H1N1 lab

Swine flu, just the name of it, sends shivers down one’s spine. A respiratory disease of a peculiar nature caused by the influenza viruses, result in a barking cough, nasal secretions, loss of appetite and listless behaviour in pigs which is and can be transmitted to humans . The disease is pandemic with potentialities to cause death. It is now a regular human flu virus which continues to circulate in a particular season worldwide. Anyone suspected to have been infected is required to undergo specialised tests and H1N1 laboratories alone can do it. How are the authorities in the Medical and Health Education system in our State addressing this sensitive issue pertaining to the health of the people, particularly in Jammu province, on summary appraisal, projects a sombre picture?
It may be recalled that in the year 2014-15, Swine Flu outbreak proved deadly in Jammu and Kashmir as more than a dozen people died due to the dreaded disease and half of them were from Jammu province. It is, however, surprising to note that the concerned authorities seem to be quite carefree about establishment of H1N1 laboratory in Government Medical College and Hospital Jammu, resulting in an increase in the cost of the project by more than Rs. 1 crore. Not only this, nobody in the Government is sure about the time frame for the completion of the project. Readers may recall that the project was sanctioned and duly announced by the Cabinet nearly more than three years back but till date; there is no development worth the name, towards completion of the much craved for project.
We need a proper and foolproof facility for timely diagnosis of the people who are suspected to be engulfed by the Swine Flu in Jammu for which, rightly a need was felt to establish a dedicated H1N1 laboratory in this part of the State. But nothing of the sort happened without disturbing the sleep, even in the least , of those whose responsibility was to closely monitor and ensure the coming up of the required lab. This attitude or approach could well be parked at the intentional denial to Jammu province of its right when seen in comparison to Kashmir valley where this facility already exists and where climatically, coupled with host of other reasons, incidence of outbreak of this deadly disease, is nearing to negligible percentage.
The Cabinet decision on the issue was followed by Planning and Development Department releasing Rs.6.30 crore to Health and Medical Education Department for setting up an independent H1N1 testing facility at Government Medical College Jammu and another Rs.5.63 crore for establishing similar facility at Chest Disease Hospital Srinagar. In other words, both the labs were announced simultaneously and while the facility started being in operation in Chest Disease Hospital , Srinagar about two years back , GMC, Jammu lab is nowhere to be seen except construction of isolated rooms and no development is visible so far as procurement of necessary equipment and other associated vital aspects are concerned.
In Jammu and Kashmir, a peculiar trend in respect of starting projects and delays in their completion, is in the shape of poor response to bids and floating of tenders. The Jammu project under reference, too, is believed to have gone through the effects of this trend as Corporation failed to install the lab since bids invited as many as three times got absolutely no response. Well, that aspect needs to be looked into seriously separately and causes ascertained but in the meantime, all the machinery , equipments etc must be procured and orders placed for the same, if not done so far, so that this lab is installed even though after so much of delay. We shall be closely monitoring the developments in the matter which is of very critical nature.