Kashmir Tops Indian States In Primary Healthcare

Kashmir Tops Indian States In Primary Healthcare

12 March 2013
Khabar South Asia
Adil Akhzer

Srinagar: For the second consecutive year, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Health Department has received India's top award for primary healthcare, surpassing health departments from metropolitan cities and other states. The award, given by India Today magazine after conducting a survey across India, was received by J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah during a function in New Delhi in November. Meanwhile, the state is taking more steps to ensure improved healthcare in coming years. The State government is now considering a proposal 'for opening and upgrading of various health institutions in the state', J&K Health Minister Shabir Ahmad Khan told lawmakers earlier this month. Officials, he said, will work to identify areas where the services are needed the most. According to Khan, the infant mortality rate in the region is dramatically declining. 'Availability of the doctors in rural areas is very good. Our innovations in the health sector have been good. We are providing basic life-support training; we are training people in different disciplines and raising a team of skilled professionals. From time to time we organise camps to inform people about different diseases,' he said. 'We are upgrading our infrastructure. Many hospitals are under construction in the state where we are spending millions of rupees. As we progress, I am sure we would be able to provide good services to the people,' Khan added. J&K Health Services Director Saleem Ur Rehman told Khabar South Asia that the department's extraordinary work has brought honours on a regular basis. 'Our healthcare facilities have moved ahead in the last few years. We are providing chemotherapy facilities in the frontier district of Kupwara and also satisfactory health services in remote areas,' Rehman said. 'We are providing Basic Life Support system training to 4,000 people, under a trainer from Switzerland in the Valley. We have gone beyond providing primary and secondary health services.' One of the Health Department's recent successes was a polio immunization campaign, during which nearly two million Kashmiri children were vaccinated. The anti-polio efforts contrast sharply with the situation in neighbouring Pakistan, where radical Islamists have disrupted immunization efforts and attacked health workers. Patients laud the quality of care Although infrastructure and funding remain a challenge, many Kashmiris say they are impressed with the quality of available treatment and the dedication of practitioners. 'We don't have adequate financial support but I am thankful to the hospital staff members who are providing us everything that they can,' said Nayeema Shah, the mother of Mehak Shah, a 16-year-old patient undergoing treatment for leukemia at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences. 'Even blood platelet bags are provided free of cost here. The same single bag costs thousands of rupees if we buy it from a private hospital,' she told Khabar. 'I am thankful to the hospital staff here, which is providing wonderful services for people who are not well off.' Aleem Ali, an engineering student from Srinagar's old city undergoing treatment for gastritis, said the Health Department is doing an admirable job, given the lack of adequate infrastructure. 'I have not faced any problems. Doctors visit regularly for my checkup. These things, you are getting from a government-run hospital, is a big thing in itself,' Ali added. 'They have got an award for providing better primary health services despite the fact that they don't have proper healthcare equipment as compared to other states,' he said, adding, 'This is great and admirable.'