Jammu and Kashmir Health Services have not crumbled under the weight of pandemic. It has been showing signs of dysfunctional virus for years, if not decades. The functioning of the ailing health institutions have come under sharp criticism of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). In its report for 2017-18, the CAG has rapped the J-K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited for delays in finalisation of rate contracts of various key supplies and non-procurement of drugs, instruments, machinery and equipment, thereby defeating the purpose of creation of the company. In a shocking revelation, the CAG has referred to non-operationalisation of 102 ambulances over a period of more than three years despite receiving the fund of Rs 3.18 crore and non-observance of prescribed procedure for empanelment of testing laboratories leading to extra-expenditure of Rs 9.47 lakh. Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, the report said, the purpose of upgradation of Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) in the Health and Medical Education Department was not achieved as all the super specialties had not been fully established. Some medical services/facilities installed had not functioned and remained out of order rendering expenditure of Rs 8.57 crore incurred thereon unfruitful and Rs 3.12 crore wasteful. Out of 592 medical equipments procured for two GMCs, 336 medical equipments (57 per cent) costing Rs 40.97 crore was not traceable/non-available, not installed and non-functional. The timing of the report ironically coincides with the grim COVID times when the health system has totally collapsed. One wonders whether the delays and lacunas of three years were actually responsible for the prevailing failure and to what extent. Systems don’t fail abruptly. This is a long drawn process. The report should not go as yet another routine ritual but the responsibility is needed to be fixed about the shortcomings and the individuals involved. They are needed to be identified and taken to task for public betrayal.
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