The hospital(s) system in Kashmir is a critical component of health care and allied facilities. Admittedly, there is a mismatch between supply and demand of health care here as there is tremendous pressure on the hospital system(s) and the ecosystem it has spawned but there really is no excuse for misadministration and malfeasance, inspite of the obvious constraints. One such instance of maladministration that has come to light is that six tertiary-care hospitals associated with Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar are facing an acute shortage of emergency drugs and consumables as the Medical Supplies Corporation has failed to replenish essential stock despite repeated requests.
Apparently, the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) has delayed the tendering process to purchase life-saving drugs and equipment for government-run hospitals. This is not only alarming but inherent to this maladministration is that lives are put ar risk. Often times, the major clients and users of the public health ecosystem in Kashmir are the deprived and vulnerable sections and segments of society. These people cannot afford medicines that are available off the shelves in the market. As such, they are dependent on the facilities and amenities provided by public hospitals. The question that the non availability of medical drugs raises is what happens if people cannot afford these? This question is more acute and poignant when and if there are critical and emergency cases involved. Obviously, this carries life threatening implications and consequences. As pointed out, there is a lot of stress and pressure on public hospitals but this cannot and should not mean that procedural hassles and delays which are eminently remediable should get in the way of providing timely and necessary health care to all. It then becomes critically necessary to , not only steam line procedures, improve management and administration of hospitals and their systems on a war footing. Given the supreme importance of the matter, the process should begin now. In the long term, in order to prevent this kind of an odious situation arising, a watch dog organisation whose remit should be both regulatory , monitoring and implementation should be superimposed on the overall governance and administration of hospitals. While the cardinal premise that should motivate this organization should be ethics, it should also have legal , punitive and administrative teeth to penalize and discipline maladministration and bad management. However, as they say, the need of the hour is “ first things first” and this in the context of short supply of medication and drugs in hospitals means restocking hospitals at the earliest!