The central government, by not asking the state's opinion during the construction of the Jammu Super Specialty Hospital (SSH), has forced us to introduce the public-private partnership (PPP) mode in the health care sector, medical education minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din claimed on Sunday.
Addressing mediapersons, he said, "A sum of Rs 120 crore meant for SSH, instead of being transferred to the state government, was given to the central public works department (CPWD), and an amount for purchase of medical equipments was given to HLL. However, both agencies have failed to deliver. All operation theatres were damaged in a fire caused by the absence of electrical earthing in the SSH building. Besides, the agency did not purchase the other necessary equipment for neurosurgery department, including MRI and digital X-ray machines."
While admitting the lapse of a Rs 9 crore fund meant for purchase of medical equipment in the last financial year, the medical education minister claimed, "The issue of fund lapse was in my knowledge, but it happened due to non-finalisation of tenders by the purchase committee. This year, the medical department has been given Rs 3.12 crore to upgrade the MRI equipment, but this process is very lengthy."
"Being a poor state, Jammu and Kashmir cannot afford to purchase medical equipment costing Rs 20 crore. This is why we had to install them under the PPP mode. The approval for this was given by a task force under the chief minister," the minister claimed.
He clarified that prices prescribed by the state government would be charged on tests conducted on the equipment, and only the staff and machinery would be provided by private firms.
"The system has already been introduced in Kashmir. Under the agreement, our medical students will also have access to this machinery as freely as they would in case of the facilities owned by the hospital. Besides, under PPP mode, diagnostic machinery would be accessible to the doctors working in the Hospital," he added.
"People with vested interests, who are directly or indirectly associated with the business in the open market have started to raise unfounded hue and cry and create doubt about a system which is going to provide relief to the patients in need of such treatment facilities at government-approved prices," alleged the minister, adding that such people feared loss in business as people would prefer hospitals over the open market.