Setting up of two Medi-Cities

Admittedly, Jammu and Kashmir is one of those States where traditionally reasonable attention has been given towards providing medical cum healthcare facilities to the people. It was Maharaja Ranbir Singh, the second Dogra ruler, who initiated Government intervention in providing medical facilities in the State , that too free of cost and for the first time, a Government health policy was formulated and the first State Dispensary in Kashmir was set up at the onset of the 19th century followed by a vast network of such dispensaries across the State of Jammu and Kashmir. These Government dispensaries were provided with the available modern equipment, allopathic drugs and qualified medical practitioners. It is to be appreciated that patients were given free treatment, while indoor patients were given free bedding, boarding, lodging, food and clothing. Various practitioners were deputed to Universities outside the State for advanced training and knowledge. Maharaja Pratap Singh too pursued the same policy with added vigour and set up hospitals of repute in the State as also providing all facilities to missionary hospitals and health centres with a view to provide wide range of better medical facilities to people at a time when such progressive and pro- people policies were either nonexistent in other States or were increasingly deficient. With this historical chequered background in promoting State sponsored better medical health care, Jammu and Kashmir can claim to be nicely placed though much more is needed to be done especially in the rural areas.
Keeping the march ahead in the medical health care, emphasis on providing better but varied healthcare facilities and expanding the coverage of the network of public health institutions across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh has been reiterated time and again. Now a ‘Policy Document’ for setting up of two Medi-Cities in Jammu and Kashmir along with identification and transfer of land by the Revenue Department has been approved by the State Administrative Council (SAC) which recently met under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik. It is a welcome and much needed timely step taken by the SAC. It is an established fact that more investments in the healthcare sector were needed although the Government agreeably has been making considerable investments in the area from time to time. The aim obviously is to develop, side by side, private healthcare facilities looking to the pressure on the Government run infrastructure as also to make the facilities competitive and attain universal health coverage goals.
Under the Policy Document, not only has it been lineated as to how Medi-Cities could be set up but what were expectations from and responsibilities of investors and promoters as also the nature of operational modalities. Investors from private sector are not in any dearth but what is needed is motivating them with adequate assurance and security of their investment in this sensitive sector. Government policies need to be investor friendly which we hope, the Policy Document must be fully taking care of. If we peep into ‘State Health Care Investment Policy 2019’ , that carries various incentives to such private investors and entrepreneurs. The Government must live up to the commitments in this regard. Only then, could it be ensued that the desired goals could be achieved in providing quality health services including promotion and establishments of modern hospitals.
We would like to reiterate that merely establishing more hospitals would be nowhere of any benefit unless they were equipped with the required number of Doctors including the specialists. Further, the spread of such medical centres and facilities should be evenly dispersed keeping in view the potential and the needs of the areas. It is good that assurances of doing away with red-tape have been ensured by deciding about fast clearance of project proposals through a single window system to obliterate multi layer scrutiny and avoidable formalities. It is also a step much needed in this direction where the investors are “exempted” from physical touch point with the approving and licensing authorities which means no hassles and no expending of time unnecessarily and avoiding of “other factors”.
While on the face of it , the entire policy document looks loaded with enough hope and aspirations , the Government must, all in its seriousness, arrange to see to it that different goals like setting up of more medical colleges and hospitals , Super speciality centres, Hospital Management and Dental colleges , AYUSH centres , Research centres, appointing nearly over 800 Medical Officers and the like being all long term projects where the zeal at the time of inking of the Policy Document and approving it must be maintained and carried along evenly with the same strength with intent to strive at target wise achievements. The desired results, however, would fountain only with full monitoring, follow up , plugging loopholes , suggesting remedies periodically when certain impediments arose and reviewing progress on monthly basis.