Rashid Paul

CDDEP report points critical shortcomings in J&K’s health infrastructure

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Has one of the lowest number of hospitals; fares equally bad in other indices when compared to even smaller north-eastern states

Srinagar: Nothing is more important than health for the quality of life, say economic and social scientists. Yet amid a raging coronavirus pandemic health infrastructure in Kashmir is far less developed than many union territories and economically backward states across India.

According to a report by The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), a Washington (USA) based independent organization; health infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir is not developed sufficiently to give a normal image of the region struggling with an unprecedented pandemic.

Amidst a wide gap between vaccine and the vaccination, the region on Sunday (May 16) reported 59 Covid-19 deaths and 4,141 new infections.

CDDEP known for conducting multidisciplinary research on health of human populations around the world, in its report “COVID-19 in India…” reveals that Jammu and Kashmir has only 157 hospitals with 143 in public sector and 14 in the private sector for a population 12 million (2011 Census).

The number is one of the lowest among the states and union territories of India, says the report compiled by an exclusively Indian team of researchers.

Arunachal Pradesh, a tiny north-eastern state with a population of 1.3 million has more hospitals than Jammu and Kashmir. It has 218 hospitals with 238 in the public sector and the rest in private sector, the CDDEP report said.

Similarly, Meghalaya, another miniature north-eastern state is also quite ahead of J&K in the measure of medical institutions and treatment centers.  It has 185 hospitals for a population of 3.2 million.

Tripura, the third-smallest state in India with 3.6 million residents, is also far ahead J&K in the medical infrastructure sector. The state has 164 hospitals.

Himachal Pradesh, the small hilly neighbor state of Jammu and Kashmir is in an enviable position in the health sector. The state has 1036 hospitals for its 6.8 million residents.

Uttarakhand, another distant neighbor and hilly state of India, has 1289 hospitals. Its population is also quite less than J&K.

Hospital beds, another indicator of health services development index, is also depressing in respect of Jammu and Kashmir.

It has almost 8000 in its government and privately owned hospitals.  Himachal Pradesh has more than double of this number while as the number is three times more in Uttrakhand.

In respect of ventilators, the important life supporting equipments for Covid patients, Jammu and Kashmir is again poorly placed than its neighbors.

According to the CDDEP report on 20th of April the preceding year, J&K had a total of 200 ventilators.

The number of these medial oxygen providing machines for patients suffering respiratory failure due to Covid is 401 and 596 in Himachal and Uttarakhand respectively, reads the report.

Since Covid renders a sizable percentage of patients critically ill who require critical care and life support, Jammu and Kashmir fares not so good on this parameter too.

According to the Center, it has a total of 400 ICU beds; its immediate neighbor Himachal has double this number while as its distant neighbor Uttrakhand has almost 1200 ICU beds.

“Jammu and Kashmir is paying a huge the price for a history of the neglect of its health sector,” said a senior professor at the Government Medical College (GMC) and Associated Hospitals Srinagar.  The faculty wished not to be named.

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