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Health Year Ender: Amid reforms, successes in 2023, J&K health sector faces challenges ahead

Health Year Ender: Amid reforms, successes in 2023, J&K health sector faces challenges ahead

Srinagar, Dec 29 (KNO): Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a major overhaul and new developments in the health sector this year with uptick in works of twin AIIMS coming up in both regions.

The AIIMS Jammu is nearing completion while AIIMS coming up at Kashmir’s Awantipora is expected to be completed next year.

In the Parliament, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar confirmed that 92 percent of the construction work for AIIMS Jammu has been completed.

Though the situation is less promising for AIIMS Awantipora, with 56 percent of the work still pending as per the latest estimates, but the health facility which can result in access to quality healthcare is set to be complete by 2024.

Amid this, the government has increased 2000 medical seats in Jammu and Kashmir to address the shortage of doctors and has upgraded health facilities. Primary health centres were upgraded to the level of Sub-District Hospitals (SDHs) to meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.

According to a health department’s Vision Document 2047, available with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the objective is to ensure the availability of quality and affordable healthcare services at the doorstep by rationalizing existing facilities and establishing new ones.

It plans to upgrade non-Traditional Public Health Centers (NTPHCs) to PHCs and establishment of new Sub Centers in remote and underserved areas. The upgradation will occur depending on population growth.

Besides, 250 Diplomate of National Board (DNB) seats have been approved in SKIMS Soura/Government Medical Colleges/District Hospitals/Sub-District Hospitals along with 590 B.Sc paramedical seats in seven Medical Colleges and 440 B.Sc. Nursing seats.

Moreover, 60 seats for Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) have been introduced in Government Unani Medical College, Kashmir and 63 seats for Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) have been added in Ayurvedic Medical College, Akhnoor, Jammu.

An additional 200 MBBS seats have also been introduced, raising the total intake capacity to 1300 seats. This has been achieved by operationalizing Government Medical Colleges in Udhampur and Handwara in 2023-24.

With focus on infrastructure, the population of Jammu and Kashmir is facing multiple health issues with new communicable diseases as well as the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, according to officials. To top it all, the rise in drug abuse among the young population is putting a burden on the health sector.

The communicable diseases include such as EBOLA, Bird flu, Swine Flu, Zika and Coronavirus besides the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as anaemia, hypertension, diabetes and cancer. Cancer, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, diabetes, obesity, hypertension are on rise in J&K.

Doctors attribute the surge in such cases to lifestyle changes and adoption of a Western and urban lifestyle.

They stress on the need for individual changes such as adopting a healthy lifestyle, maintaining good food habits, physical exercise and quitting smoking. At a collective level, measures include preventing environmental pollution and ensuring access to clean water.

Additionally, anaemia remains a major health problem in the region, especially among women and children. Doctors attribute this to nutritional deficiencies and a lack of awareness about menstrual health.

There are 8.7 percent of women and 8 percent of men aged above 15 whose blood sugar level is above 140 mg/dl.

Drug abuse is on the rise in J&K especially intravenous injection while doctors also said that persons who inject drugs (PWIDs) are at risk of having unwanted health problems that affect their body as well as their overall health, however, addiction treatment facilities are emerging as a boon for drug addicts who have made their mind of getting rid of this menace.

Around 13.5 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir consume drugs, with over 5 lakh addicts using opioids, a parliament panel report has revealed.

Besides drug abuse, mental health issues are on the rise J&K as over 29,000 calls were received on tele manhas in the last one year while over 200 youngsters were counselled through chatbot so far.

Virtual autism is emerging as a new challenge among children in J&K as most of the children in J&K spend most of their time on mobile phones and other screens.

Meanwhile, scan and share along digital payment facilities have been started in hospitals in J&K this year and so far around 26 lakhs tokens have been generated through scan and share facilities while the government is working to ensure paperless hospital registrations.

A hundred percent saturation under the AB PM-JAY SEHAT scheme was achieved this year and hundreds of critical procedures were conducted free of cost through Ayushmaan Bharat Scheme.

The much awaited Cancer institute at Jammu was made functional this year and some procedures were carried out for the first time in J&K hospitals this year.

The 300-bedded high-tech Bone and Joint Hospital Jammu was made functional this year while the much awaited new building at B&J hospital Srinagar is expected to be completed in the next 2-3 months while chemotherapy units have been started in almost all district hospitals.

TB Testing facilities have been ramped in Kashmir by at least three times and very soon Kashmir is expected to get TB free status.

An official said that there are thousands of posts lying vacant in the department since years and filling them can ensure healthcare facilities to all—(KNO)

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