Srinagar, July 21: A delegation from different political parties comprising Dr Farooq Abdullah, Dr Mehboob Beg and Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami who called on the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday expressed grave concern over the deteriorating state of affairs of Kashmir health sector.
They expressed concern over the recent decision of the government to divest SKIMS of its autonomous status.
The leaders presented a Memorandum to LG which highlighted the shabby part of the Kashmir hospitals.
The Memorandum reads that since the inception of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar (SKIMS), the institute continued to add new milestones to its distinguished journey. However, the institute is beset with practical difficulties, which takes a toll on both patient care and it’s overall functioning.
“The recent decision of the government to divest SKIMS of its autonomous status has had an adverse effect on its decision-making process. Presently, the institution is facing a staffing deficit with hundreds of slots at various levels viz, medical, paramedic, and administrative lying vacant. There is a 50 percent of shortage of all technical and nursing staff. The recruitment has not been conducted for the last seven years.”
“As on date, a total number of 1201 of posts of different categories including 115 faculty positions, 149 Gazetted posts, 870 Non-Gazetted and 67 positions of Senior and Junior Residents are vacant.”
“SKIMS has also been facing a distinctive challenge due to inadequate infrastructure and funds. Of 3 CT scan machines, only one is functional while as an old MRI machine has been out of order. There is no Linear Accelerator available with the facility. The equipment is crucial to administer radiations to the cancer patients. The gynae hospital of the institute is facing acute space constraints.”
“The institute has not made any significant advancement in robotic surgery owing to the financial constraints. Of Rs 400 crore annual budget, around 70 percent is spent on the salaries. The SKIMS is also running a paramedical and a nursing college.”
“Besides the SKIMS, the other premier hospitals are facing well-nigh the similar issues. Hundreds of posts are lying vacant in SMHS, Srinagar and Children’s Hospital, Bemina. The top floor of the ward building of Bone and Joint Hospital Barzulla, the only such hospital in Kashmir, was damaged in a fire incident in 2022, but the hospital continues to operate out of the same of same building. Although the construction work on an additional 120 bedded block, funded by the World Bank has been taken up three years ago, it is yet to be completed. The building has missed several deadlines thus far.”
“The district level hospitals across Jammu and Kashmir paints the same dismal picture. In absence of radio therapy facilities in such hospitals, the cancer patients have to endure immense hardships. They have to seek the treatment in Srinagar and other private hospitals which enhances their treatment cost.”
“The shortage of manpower has not only placed additional strain on the existing staff in the SKIMS and other hospitals, but also raises concerns over the quality of care being provided to the patients. Moreover, the lack of crucial equipment stymies the patient care.”
“It is important that the vacant slots be filled on a fast track basis to ensure the seamless functioning of these premier hospitals
The Lt Governor assured the members of the delegation that the UT Administration is committed to health for all and manpower issue raised by the delegation will be addressed on priority and in a time bound manner.
He said, under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unprecedented health infrastructure has come up in J&K in the last 3 years.
“Due to our consistent efforts, today J&K has one of the best public health care facilities in the country. The UT administration is working with sensitivity to ensure common man has access to quality healthcare and our performance on 10 health parameters are better than national average, which is a testimony to our commitment of quality of life and transformation in health sector of Union Territory,” the Lt Governor observed.
The Lt Governor further noted that more than Rs. 7000 Crores have been spent strengthening health infrastructure and Rs. 881 Crore to upgrade the dilapidated infra in districts. With 2 new AIIMS, 7 new medical colleges, 5 new nursing colleges, upgradation of 10 nursing colleges and 2 Bone & Joint hospitals, Jammu Kashmir is redefining healthcare delivery system in the Country. 2 state-of-the-art cancer institutes are also coming up, one each in Jammu and Srinagar, and MoU with Tata Cancer Institute has been signed to provide best care and ensure trained manpower.
The work on Bone & Joint Hospital, Srinagar has been expedited and is expected to be completed by end of this year.
Dialysis facilities are available in every District Hospital, besides universal health coverage of Rs Five Lakh is provided to every household of Jammu Kashmir under Ayushman Bharat-SEHAT Scheme. Around 98% population has access to Ayushman Bharat, which has proved to be a boon to the poor, marginalized section of society as well as the middle class. Earlier there was no facility for critical care ambulances, however, it is now available round the clock across the Union Territory.
“Accessible, affordable and quality healthcare for every citizen of J&K UT is our top priority,” the Lt Governor said.