Will health care ever be election issue?

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Even as health services at government run facilities across the state remain below average mark, yet the issue never catches fire during polls. Never has the voter/public thought about casting their rights to those who really would improve it. Successive government come and go claiming data of improving health services, but evidently nothing changes on ground. As till date regular newspaper are flooded with negative reports on this aspect.

To eyewash, the graph of better health services is only adjudged on numbers by all political parties. The Number of AIIMS for a state/ number of hospitals opened/ number of primary health centres opened/ number of dispensaries opened. Besides opening hospitals etc the new add-on by political parties is ‘Low cost health Insurance schemes’ and ‘Free medicine’, ‘Government regulated rates’ for essentials like cardio and other implants. ‘The state government has ensured that health services for effective prevention and treatment intervention are accessible to the people of Himachal Pradesh, through a network of 89 hospitals, 91 CHCs and 580 PHCs, 16 ESI dispensaries and 2085 sub centers,” states the Economic survey 2018-19.

Numbers which can used during polls, or at a Lok Sabha/ Vidhan Sabha budget speech but would work only if supported by backup infrastructure. Though fact on ground that most hospitals are short of bedding capacity. Nurses, paramedics, house keeping, cleaning staff, etc is a concern area. Lesser doctors are available to serve at tehsil and village level. Not to talk of Specialists doctors who are not even available at district level. Plight increases to note that even the existing manpower serving is also over worked, and therefore has developed fatigue.

Claims are to make health services better, but still patients are treated on Stratures, and attendant have nowhere to rest. Still patients are looted in name of better quality medicine/implant. Still at general wards patients are forced to run for the nurse’s attention, when the drip is finished /about to finish. Still conflicts are noted between doctors and patients on issues of treatment. Still, toilets here are unusable for many (Due to dirt). Still free of cost quality medicine is a privilege.

Yet no urgency is displayed by any stakeholders. The only priority perhaps for authorities is numbers, with hardly any focus on the average patient’s plight, in a government run health facility. As per the 2018-19 department of state health services budget which has a total outlay of plus 16 crores. Salaries constitute a major share of 9 crore. Free medicine has some but creation of main infrastructure holds 80lac share. Clearly as per data maximum money spent in state health services goes in development of main infrastructure (Close to 80-85%), with minimal falling in the kitty of improving the existing services. Will better health services ever become an election issue is the only point to ponder.

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