The healthcare in Jammu and Kashmir has experienced a major transformation over the last four years. New medical colleges have been established, expanding the medical seat capacity from 500 to an impressive 2,000. The introduction of two All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has positioned the union territory as a hub for medical education. And the establishment of colleges across various districts has brought advanced healthcare within closer reach of people.
Historically, healthcare in J&K has faced numerous challenges, including limited accessibility to medical facilities, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and geographical barriers that hindered the delivery of medical services. However, the current administration has made a determined effort to change this reality for the better.
In the upcoming academic session, two additional medical colleges, situated in Handwara and Udhampur, are set to commence operations, each accommodating 100 students. With their inauguration, the tally of medical colleges in Jammu and Kashmir will rise to 13, collectively offering 1,300 MBBS seats. This will not only make available more seats to MBBS aspirants in a place where medicine is one of the most sought after profession but also, in turn, enhance accessibility to healthcare.
Simultaneously, the development of two Medicities is currently in progress, one in Jammu and the other in Kashmir. An important initiative that has made a real difference to the lives of people has been the distribution of Golden Cards to over 60 lakh individuals in the union territory. This initiative aims to provide health insurance up to Rs. 5,00,000, encompassing all segments of the population. The health insurance schemes have alleviated financial burdens and facilitated cashless medical care. Also, specialized treatments worth Rs 221.66 crore have been provided under these initiatives.
Last week, doctors at SKIMS Soura were directed to prescribe generic medicines exclusively, and the entry of medical representatives into hospital premises was restricted. Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme has established Dialysis Centres across various locations in the region, reducing the need for patients to travel elsewhere for such services.
People in Kashmir Valley generally head to other parts of the country for specialized treatment. But the last four years have witnessed some of India’s major hospitals coming or planning to come to Valley which hopefully will address the need for the patients to go outside for expensive medical treatment.
However, challenges still persist. There is a need for continued investment in healthcare infrastructure, especially in the remote and mountainous areas. The healthcare system must also be prepared to tackle health emergencies effectively, whether they are infectious disease outbreaks or natural disasters. Going forward, the administration will be expected to address these.
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