GoI To Release 50 % Funds By Nov End For Rebuilding Health Infrastructure Of Valley

19 October 2014
Rising Kashmir
Manzoor-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: The state government has submitted a detailed memorandum to Union Health Ministry seeking compensation for the losses suffered by health infrastructure, including hospitals, in the recent floods. The memo was submitted by Commissioner-Secretary Health and Medical Education Dr Gazanfar Hussain to Deputy Director General Health, Dr SK Sharma on the conclusion of his visit to hospitals of Kashmir valley for physical assessment of the damage caused by the floods. Government of India's inter-ministerial team headed by Union Joint Secretary Home, M Gopal Reddy was accompanied by Deputy Director General Health Dr SK Sharma. Dr Sharma visited every flood-hit hospital in the valley and carried out the assessment of the damages to the equipments and infrastructure. Official sources privy to the visit told Rising Kashmir that the central team assured the health department that at least 50 percent funds meant to rebuild the infrastructure would be released by the end of next month. 'The team was positive about the assessments and the observations made in the memorandum. They told us that they will recommend early release of funds to state government for reconstructing the health infrastructure,' they said. Earlier, a high-level central team had put the losses at Rs 256 crore. The state government also reflected same in the memorandum prepared by health department. In the recent floods, the major damage was caused to the tertiary care hospitals with heavy equipments like CT scan and MRI machines. According to officials, floodwaters had damaged expensive equipment like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray machines, blood banks, laboratory and laundry equipments. 'The ground floor of SMHS hospital was completely submerged in the flood causing massive damage to some of the hi-tech equipment there. We have lost modern equipments used for performing MRIs and some other costly facilities were housed in the ground floor,' said Dr Nazir Ahmad Choudhary, Medical Superintendent of SMHS Hospital. The hospital, which caters to patient rush from across Kashmir, has been restarted partially. Almost all specialized medical equipment at SMHS hospital including MRI systems, X-ray machines, ECG machines, Color Doppler and others have been severely damaged. Scores of damaged hospital beds lie outside. The patient care was also severely affected at GB Pant hospital and Lal Ded hospital during the floods. Medical Superintendent LD hospital, Mushtaq Ahmad Rather, said blood bank, laundry, support services, oxygen plant and other services housed in the ground floor have been damaged. 'But the operation theatres, labor rooms and health care facilities for new born are safe as they were housed in upper floors. We have pegged the loss at Rs 25 crore,' he added. Similarly, the GB Pant hospital also suffered huge damage of equipments. 'We have lost equipments worth Rs 10 crore which include blood bank, laboratory equipments, X-Ray and civil works,' said Dr Muneer Masoodi, Medical Superintendent of the hospital. Health Minister, Taj Mohi-ud-in, said since the assessment of losses has only been worked out by the central government, there will be no difficulty in getting the funds from the Union Health Ministry. He said although major diagnostic equipments have been damaged by the floods at different hospitals, the government made arrangements to ensure that the services are not badly hit. 'We have already started utilising funds under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to repair the damage caused to health infrastructure. The state government has released Rs 10 crores from SDRF funds to build the damaged infrastructure, but the quantum of money required to procure machines and repair infrastructure will be much more. As such we need to approach the Central government for funding,' Taj had told Rising Kashmir. Officials said they are also looking at the possibility of private-public partnership to rebuild the health infrastructure that has been damaged by the floods. 'There are some corporate groups, who could be even contacted for helping the State in building the infrastructure. They can help the State and provide diagnostic equipments under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),' they said.