New Medical Colleges

A big and unprecedented boon is in offing for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It comes in the shape of huge improvement in providing medical facility to the people in rural areas who are handicapped in many ways in receiving adequate medical assistance to the needy. Sometime back, after the Union Government agreed to open two instead of one AIIMS in the State, one each in Srinagar and Jammu, the process of identifying the site and acquiring the land was initiated.
In yet another development, the Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda has given nod for opening five medical colleges in the State at Baramulla and Anantnag in Kashmir Division and Rajouri, Doda and Kathua in Jammu region. While approval to three of the proposed colleges has been given, approval for two remaining colleges namely Kathua and Doda has been deferred till pending formalities are completed.
The overall scenario of medical facilities provided to the J&K State after all the five newly planned medical colleges and the AIIMS become functional will be something like this. Kashmir will have two new medical colleges, one medical college already existing, SKIMS already functional and one AIIMS in the offing. Jammu region will have two medical colleges in offing, one already functional and one AIIMS. This is a fairly satisfactory scenario in regard to improvement of health services in our State. The significance of five new medical colleges with foundation stone of three of them to be laid before May 20 at a cost of rupees 180 crores each is that these will be opened at District Headquarters and not in the capital cities of Srinagar or Jammu. The significance of policy shift from capital cities to District Headquarters is a clear sign that the present Government wants to reach the rural India and fulfill the needs of the people of remote areas where public finds it very difficult to reach the recognized source of healthcare.
The benefits of opening medical colleges in District Headquarters hardly beggars explanation. Hundreds of meritorious students who could have won laurels had they been successful in finding entrance to medical profession, will now have fair chance of succeeding in winning a seat in the District Medical Colleges going to be opened soon. A big benefit of these district medical colleges will be that these will give preference in admission to the meritorious students from the district concerned. When they complete their professional training, they will have far less hesitation in serving their respective districts and localities. Generally speaking, it has been a worry for the administration that competent doctors are reluctant to be posted to rural areas where people badly need their services. This phenomenon had created heart-burning among such doctors as had remained posted to rural hospitals for a long time since they did not wield political influence to obtain suitable posting.
At the same time another major benefit will be that unmanageable over-crowding of patients and their wards in main hospitals will be reduced because in all probability, a new medical college at District Headquarter  will have the district hospital attached to it. Most of the patients admitted to respective district hospitals will feel less inclined or obliged to be shifted to the capital city hospital for better treatment because now better treatment facility will come to their doorstep when the District Medical Colleges become functional.
Opening five new Medical Colleges means five times increase in the medical seats annually. This is no small a step in improving healthcare situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Employment potential of the scheme is obvious.
Keeping this prospect in view, we highly appreciate the decision of the Union Ministry of Health for the generosity of announcing opening of five new medical colleges in the State. We are sanguine that two of these for which final approval is withheld will also receive approval once the technicalities are completed and that may not take more than a couple of months. Healthcare status in the State will go through sea change after the two AIIMs and new Medical Colleges become functional.