JK bags ‘State of States’ Award in Health Sector! Trick or Treat

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NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir has been conferred with the ‘Big State of the States’ (SoS) award in health sector by the India Today Group.

The award was received by the Minister for Health and Medical Education, ARI and Trainings, Choudhary Lal Singh at an impressive function here last evening.

Editor-in-Chief, India Today, Arun Purie, presented the award to the health minister at India Today Conclave-2015, held at Hotel Oberoi, New Delhi. While announcing the award, Purie said that for the last 12 years, India Today’s annual State of the State’s Survey has emerged as the gold survey for analyzing and recognizing the primary units of the governance that keep India ticking over.

“I have been pleased to see the SoS trophies displayed proudly in several offices of several chief ministers I have visited since we first began these awards in 2003. This shows that doing well in the survey has become a symbol of achievement for them, which is exactly what we would hope it would be,” Purie said.

“I have been saying for a while that the future of India lies with the States rather with the Centre, which should look at larger policy concerns. States have a much better idea of their needs. They are also in a better position to the welfare and wellbeing of their citizens,” he said.

While receiving the award for JK, Lal Singh lauded the organizers for choosing J&K for the award, saying much more was to be done on the ground to improve the healthcare sector in the State. He lauded the medicos and paramedics of his department to work round the clock for providing the better healthcare services at all levels.

The Minister was accompanied by Commissioner Secretary, Health and Medical Education, Dr MK Bhandari, Project Director, DG ISM, Dr Kabir, Dr Saleem Ur Rehman, Director, Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Sameer Mattoo, Director, Health Services, Jammu, Dr Pathania, Mission Director, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Baldev Sharma, OSD to Health Minister, Suruj Rukwal, among other health officials.

Pertinently the organizers earlier said that the annual INDIA TODAY “The State of the States” study was an attempt to find out which of India’s states offers its citizens the best opportunities, both at work and outside. The study, according to them, tracks each state’s performance over time and, in particular, records the changes over the last year. It takes into account both the business environment and the quality of life. The parameters on which the states are judged include governance, education, agriculture, healthcare, infrastructure, investment scenario, economy, environment, cleanliness, and inclusive development. Its objectivity and scope have made this study the gold standard for the health of Indian states.

Trick or Treat : KO Analysis

Last year India Today group had awarded Srinagar as cleanest city of India.

It must be pointed out here that the India Today award stretches credulity and even disbelief, to say the least. A pedestrian assessment or even glance at the healthcare system of our state would reveal glaring and structural lacunae and inadequacies.  

The state’s bellwether healthcare or medical institute, the SKIMS serves as a metaphor and an example of the decrepit and pathetic condition of our healthcare system.

The health care ecosystem in Kashmir- district hospitals, dispensaries, health centres, etc- is so bad that there is an overload on the SKIMS. This leads to skewed doctor patient ratios impinging negatively on the delivery of healthcare and medical services. Doctors cannot adequately attend to patients who either have to suffer silently or if finances permit move out of the state to get better medical care. Critical care patients suffer the most especially from far flung distant areas. The ambulance network of the state is if not non existent but pathetic. Paramedical staff is inadequately trained and again  is characterized by manpower issues.

There’s more but in a nutshell, our health care system is ailing, dysfunctional and decrepit. It needs a comprehensive, systemic overhaul to just aspire to a decent, functional sector. This begs the question why the India Today selected J & K state for the award. This can best be answered by those who gave the award. We can but speculate. Our informed speculation suggests that they are either being misled or their methodology is seriously flawed. Either way, it bodes ill for the state. A serious and sober review of JK’s health care system may just have concentrated minds and spurred authorities to rejigg it.

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