Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quality Health Care for Masses

Javid has his finger on location woes for building new medical facilities, whereas the real issue is whether quality health care is possible for ordinary Kashmiris in a culture that has given us Lal Ded and GMC Hospitals

(Dr. Javid Iqbal, 65, was born in Srinagar. He attended the D.A.V. School, Srinagar, and graduated in Medicine from the Government Medical College (GMC). His professional service in medicine includes work in the Middle East for three decades. During his days at the GMC, he captained the cricket team. He enjoys writing and staying close to his children in far away lands.)

Apollo Healthcare in Kashmir

With the opening of well knit Apollo health care facility in Karan Nagar, an ideal location where uptown and downtown areas crisscross, India’s major corporate healthcare chain has announced its arrival in Kashmir. Such a facility was direly needed. Yet because of prevailing conditions major corporate health sector players could not display in the valley what they had to offer.

The indigenous growth of private health sector remains stifled. Master plan of Srinagar comes in the way of developing private sector health facilities. It has had the effect of dampening the entrepreneur zest of many medicos. Some of them had left lucrative practices abroad to invest their hard earned money in the state, all of no avail. There is no desire in official circles to revisit the master plan and bring it in tune with the need of modern times. The lackluster attitude of state authorities, needless hard attitudes, inability to come to grips with growing public need has had an upsetting effect on local talent.

The main obstacle remains developing private health facility in residential area. Many public sector health facilities are located in thickly populated areas. SMHS, JLNM, Lal Ded, GB Pant, to name a few. Even chest diseases hospital, where patients of tuberculosis are treated, is located in thickly populated area in Srinagar. Tuberculosis patients were usually treated in sanitariums in isolated areas of health resorts. Official agencies have hardly a healthy argument in denying willing investors, while sticking to an out-dated master plan. The mode of denial persists, even when the existence of health care facilities in residential areas of India’s metropolitan cities and in cities all over the world is pointed out.

The asymmetric residential colonies that have come up in the recent past lack facilities. The private health care facilities that have come-up in residential areas are few and far between. Some of these facilities face problems of official regularization. In such a dismal scenario, a facility like Apollo health care facility is welcome. A start has been made and Apollo like facilities are bound to multiply in sync with increasing demand for top quality health care located at a walking distance in residential areas, of course with contagious disease care excluded.

Corporate health sector has assumed global dimensions keeping up with widening health concerns in industrially advancing age. The age has thrown-up new challenges. Given the richer spread of the dinning table, paucity of time or disinclination for physical workout, the white collar workers are mostly getting into hyper-nutritive states, a state of health where more calories (unit of dietary intake) are consumed than our daily routine needs. This leads to dietary excess and amounts to health abuse. Excess calories could be shed by physical workout, a daily swift walk for a minimum of 40 minutes, which a routine majority feels disinclined to undertake.

Senior health analysts and the noted physicians—Prof (Dr) Allaqaband, Prof (Dr) Hamid Zargar, Prof (Dr) Showkat Zargar—Director SKIMS, Prof (Dr) M.S. Khuroo – have been virtually making it a point to talk of ‘Epidemic of Diabetes’ in every medical meet. Prof (Dr) Hamid Zargar is a diebetologist of repute. He minces no words in talking of frightening proportions that diabetes is assuming. Another disorder of wide concern taking scores of lives is ischemic heart disease. Ischemia is a state of impaired blood supply. And if it gets related to a vital organ like heart, the result could be fatal. Dietary excess—high protein, high fat diet and lack of physical workout could result in thickening of blood and formation of clots which impede the blood supply. Every organ needs a measure of blood which is need oriented depending on the workload of that organ. Impairment in the needed supply poses severe health problems.

Hyper-nutritive disorders get related to growing affluence and new challenges in health care. Prompt and early diagnosis could mean the difference between life and death. Apollo promises holistic healthcare, with facilities for carrying out diagnostic measures and day to day care facilities under one roof at reasonable prices. The promised care is in sync with brand name Apollo. The doyen of valley, a veteran physician Prof. (Dr) Allaqaband, who was the prime guest at the inaugural function held the Apollo facility on hold for a year before he would pass a verdict on the ability of the branded health care facility’s ability to deliver. Promise has to be converted to performance. The learned professor might have been alluding to difficulties of operating in a place where needless inferences and misjudged inferences could mar the most promising of promises.

The facilities that Apollo unfolds promise a lot. Maximum utilization of available space reveals an artistic touch. The architectural pattern, though holistic, has nevertheless addressed concerns of multiple units related to health care disciplines under one roof in a space of approximately 8500 sq. feet. The dimensions make it the second biggest Apollo clinic in the country. There is enough space for profiling the data needed by the clinician to form a definitive impression. Biochemical profiling, the imaging techniques, cardio-techniques are pros which render reliability to the facility. The cons are hardly detectable, even if a conscious effort is made to find one. Materially the facility has all that a clinician may desire and the patient may deserve, yet the hand that moves the machines has to remain deft and dexterous.

Apollo is definitely a name that catches attention. Its protagonists claim it to be a proposition that is difficult to match. The major corporate health player has enough to prove its veracity. It is indeed an integrated enterprise. With Apollo health care facilities spread all over the country of continental proportions, it has plans to get global. And it is spreading its chain of hospitals and clinics in neighboring countries. Figures testify the wide and effective reach. Twenty million people from 120 countries treated, 6.2 million preventive health checks performed, as well as 1.2 million open heart surgeries, 8000 kidney transplant, 890 liver transplants. The clinic pioneers a range of value added services such as second opinion from the panel of leading experts across Apollo Hospitals in India through telemedicine and counseling of various lifestyle parameters. Besides this, Apollo Clinic Srinagar offers facilities like comprehensive immunization services, corporate packages and infertility services in keeping with the finest practices worldwide.

Apollo Srinagar is designed to be a service provider for virtually all medical disciplines including cardiology, dermatology, gynecology and obstetrics, orthopedics, pediatrics urology, pulmonology, endocrinology, dentistry, psychiatry, physiotherapy and dentistry unit etc. The facility has signed a M.O.U with Spectra Laboratory division Apollo Hospitals enterprise limited for specialized investigations like molecular genetics, cytology and clinical pathology.

The facility is designed to save a trip to Delhi for worried vale dwellers with the unfounded belief that Srinagar may not offer the best to address health concerns.

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