First-Ever Health Policy Draft Gathers Dust at Secretariat

Even after five months, the draft of the first-ever health policy formulated to streamline healthcare facilities and human resource for J&K is gathering dust in the health and medical education (HME) department. At a time J&K is facing quality manpower crisis in hospitals, the health policy had recommended change in human resource policy to retain doctors who are moving out of the country for better career progression and monetary benefits. After a year of extensive research and consultation with stakeholders, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, Director General, Health Services, and chairman of the committee set up to form the policy, submitted the draft of the policy to Pawan Kotwal, commissioner secretary, health and medical education, for approval in April. However, till date, there has been no move forward in the implementation of the policy, which could have helped the state streamline its public healthcare sector. “After submitting the policy, we never heard anything about it from the higher authorities,” said a member of the committee.

The health policy has pitched for providing incentives to doctors and exposes them to newer methods of treatment. It also advocated a bold human resource policy change to address the issue of human resource retention in rural areas. Hundreds of doctors complaining of lack of better monetary benefits have left their jobs in J&K and moved to West Asia or western countries. The brain drain has created nearly 2800 vacancies in the health department, having an adverse impact on healthcare. In past one year, the state government has terminated services of nearly 200 doctors for being on unauthorized absence from duty and working outside J&K. For infrastructural and human resource management, the policy has recommended an upgrade of the healthcare at the primary as well as tertiary level to make it affordable for all. It also envisages creation of a J&K medical commission for the recruitment and promotion of faculty members of the medical colleges. Apart from welfare schemes, it says there is a need for a regular audit of human resources and appraisal of their performance. “Moving towards assurance of free healthcare to patients irrespective of their ability to pay is the cornerstone of state health policy. The inability of poor people to pay for healthcare decreases their chances of survival and pushes them into poverty,” added Rehman. – Tribune India

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