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OPINION

SKIMS Private Practice Ban

Pro-People or Anti-People?
Mehboob Makhdoomi
Srinagar | Posted : Jan 14 2018 1:21AM | Updated: Jan 13 2018 11:30PM
SKIMS Private Practice Ban
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This is not about doctors, media or even the government. All the three exist for the welfare of patients in this context. So, the most appropriate way to look at it would be from the patient’s lenses. Agreed, SKIMS had directed its doctors not to practice in private clinics. Agreed, some doctors still did it. Agreed they take the Non-Practicing Allowance (By the way, they don’t have a choice not to). However, there’s a larger question to address. Since the laws are meant to be for the good of the general public, is this ban pro-people or anti-people? I’m aware anybody on the post of Director-SKIMS would always want to make SKIMS comparable to the premier research institutes in India or abroad, which is why they ban private practice of their doctors so that they remain focused, at work; but at what cost? To keep a doctor stress-free after work is a luxury which J&K with failed healthcare system simply cannot afford.

It’s like making a law to give tickets to slow drivers for driving too slow in Srinagar, simply because Florida and North Carolina do that. Or penalizing those who tailgate in Karan Nagar-which would mean everyone would get tailgating tickets- just because it happens in New York City. These things are apparently best practices but in specific contexts. The government which has failed to provide adequate pediatric care in its hospitals, the government which has rats enjoying vacations in the only pediatric facility- GB Pant, has no right to impose a law asking HOD Neonatology SKIMS, to take rest post-work so that he comes tomorrow with a fresh mind. How accessible is the Neurosurgeon for a commoner in hospitals? In fact, how many Neurosurgeons are there in the valley? Almost 90% specialists of the valley are associated with the SKIMS. How many patients can a specialist see a day? And what is your plan for those patients who can't get a consultation? You have no system at all. You have no plans at all.

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Imagine if you actually shut down these private practices! What would be the condition of already over-burdened hospitals? What would happen to the quality of health care service? I challenge you to actually implement this law for a month and see if you won’t come begging to these doctors to break the law. Private practice saves hospitals from anarchy and chaos. It takes the pressure off. I don’t say these doctors do it for the sake of people. They may be doing it to make more money. Does that mean our jealousy overpowers our care and common sense? The doctors who have been targeted could simply travel 900 KMs and charge 1500 INR for the same consultation which costs us 200 to 300 in Kashmir. Tell a mother with a sick child in her lap that she needs to wait for days to see a specialist in the hospital if she wants to. Seek an opinion on this from a daughter who's waiting with her ailing father for hours in a hospital hallway and is told that the doctor has left for the day. When they can afford to pay this meagre amount, let them do it. This would also mean that a poor patient can get a little more attention in a comparatively less chaotic hospital.

This copy-paste of best-practices from outside in a place where it doesn't fit in shows the unscientific approach of our administrators & lawmakers. Even the visitors and travelers in the West & Gulf countries are covered under health insurance, not to talk of their own citizens. This is the failure of third-world countries to address basic human rights where people die for not having money. We need to address that before we come up with these directives or else it will all boomerang. Some instances of doctors hoodwinking patients or being in cahoots with Pharmaceutical companies are true but insincerity is out there in every field. By that logic, all the sectors are to be shut. These clinics were not being operated from hideouts. When public knew about it, why would the authorities be oblivious to it? Then, why this knee-jerk reaction, as if you didn’t know? This is the slave-attitude of showing to the master that you have acted. A fascist news channel, which skyrockets its TRPs by spewing venom against Kashmiris has appeared as a savior to few, all of a sudden. When this channel was merry-making & applauding the bravery of their Jawans for spraying pellets on our sons & daughters, who was doing overtime to treat them? When all of us were discussing politics in our dining rooms, the doctors were out there every day almost fighting the battle on the backend. It takes straight ten years of rigorous studies to become a super-specialist and then the decades of experience which these three men have, and we see a reporter, working for a brazenly anti-Kashmir channel using adjectives like ‘Thugs’ for these men. What a tragedy! For heaven's sake, why was the Director- Dr. Ahanger- attached? How did the Government assume his complicity without waiting for the inquiry report? Now, when the court has stayed his attachment, just hours later the government appoints another doctor as an interim director. Is this a joke? This shows there is deeper politics behind this affair.

If it’s all to be condensed and put it out succinctly, the government is welcome to stop the private practice of doctors, if it’s successful in ensuring smooth health care access to the burgeoning patient population. Till then, it’s injudicious- not for the doctors but for the patients- to ban the private practice.