SRINAGAR: Deteriorating health care system(s) in the Kashmir division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is almost a staple for newspapers. Much ink has been spilt on the issue so much so that news pertaining to our ailing health care system now ceases to elicit alarm or concern. This is alarming as can be purely for the reason that the health, efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system is a life and death matter. A good health care system means life, longevity and improved quality of life while as a poor and bad healthcare system leads to gratuitous loss of life, poor quality of life and unwarranted suffering.
Amidst the cacophony of continuous bad news about our health care system, what perhaps stands out as terribly bad news is the unregistered medical, hospital and nursing home operators that have sprung up and mushroomed over the years in Kashmir. According to tour newspapers reportage, about 60% of hospitals and nursing homes are without registration. This lack of registration, among other things, means the obvious: lack of accountability and oversight over a sector that, as we have said, determines life or death. While reflecting poorly on the health authorities of the state, it also impugns and calls into question the credibility and intentions of private players in the health sector. Both the authorities and the private players are implicated in this fiasco. It also reflects the disregard for life and welfare of the people of the state. In a developed country context, lack of registration and poor health care delivery systems would amount to criminal negligence which would entail punishment.
Broadly speaking, the registration fiasco also implicates the authorities of the sector in neglecting an opportunity that stares people of the Kashmir division in the face: promotion of medical tourism. A prudent, ethical and robust regulatory framework coupled with promotion of destination Kashmir for medical tourism-nationally and internationally- would have had multiple beneficts. It would have induced competition in Kashmir and overall service delivery would have improved by leaps and bounds; there would also have been spill over benefits in terms of employment generation and other allied themes and developments. But , alas, the lackadaisical approach of the authorities and the callous , self serving and unethical behaviors and practices by some private players have led to serious and systemic deteriorations- regulatory, service provision and delivery, an uneven playing field and other market and state distortions in the sector. All this affects the welfare of people. But, alas, it seems, no one cares.
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