With pediatric healthcare grossly inadequate in Kashmir, the State Government has sought assistance from the World Bank for construction of the new children’s hospital.
The State authorities took up the matter with World Bank team during its visit to Kashmir earlier this month. The team was in the Valley with regard to project implementation and institutional arrangements after the financial institution cleared Rs 1500 crore assistance for the flood ravaged J&K.
“Of all the projects that came up for discussion with the visiting World Bank team, our thrust was to seek funding for construction of children’s hospital in Kashmir,” Principal Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr Rafiq Ahmad Pampori, confirmed.
An official said the WB team visited the flood hit hospital in Srinagar and later on they also inspected the sites proposed by the State Government for construction of the children hospital.
“We had a detailed discussion with the team over the need for construction of the pediatric hospital. The official who represented the state government gave a detailed overview of the requirements,” said the official.
Kashmir’s lone children hospital, GB Pant Hospital, which was already constrained by space and infrastructure deficit, got a major blow when the September 2014 flood severely damaged its ground floor, rendering it defunct. The bed capacity of the hospital has gone down to just 90 for a population of over 25 lakh children of Kashmir division including Ladakh.
The GMC Principal said the World Bank team was “very receptive”.
“But no confirmation about funding the hospital construction has been made by the World Bank yet,” said the Principal.
Sources said the issue of funding for construction of children’s hospital was raised by the State Health Department authorities with the Asian Development Bank also some three months ago.
“But there has been no progress on that front so far,” said the official.
The State Government has been giving cold response to the project even though the authorities concerned have submitted the proposal to the Government three times after death of over 500 children at GB Pant Hospital in 2012.
“Given the complacency shown by State Government and the delay the project has witnessed, the funding agencies like World Bank are the last hope for us,” said an administrator in the Health Department.
A World Bank official, who was part of the visiting team, said they assessed the need in Kashmir’s health sector including the need for new pediatric hospital in Kashmir.
“Our mandate was to assess the need and submit the report to our higher authorities,” said the official. “Any decision on the matter will be taken in consultation with the authorities from Government of India.”