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Make GMC a Teaching Cum Research Institute

THE government has to put off the implementation of the universal medi-claim scheme, Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana (DDSSY) by another 15 days as adequate numbers of identity cards were not issued to public. Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar says 1.38 lakh families have registered their names under the scheme, and cards for 40,000 families are ready, out of which 26,000 have collected as on August 13. Parsekar has expressed confidence that by September 1, at least one lakh families would be issued cards. The government is issuing 5,000 cards a day. Though families started registering themselves under the scheme from June 1, but the government could make only 40,000 cards by August 13. The reasons advanced by the government for delay in launch of the scheme have been seen by people as not the real reasons.
Among the controversies that have marked the scheme was the sudden decision of the government to give all the 447 medical or surgical procedures to private hospitals after initially announcing that they would be given the right to perform only 170-odd procedures. The government appears to have meekly given in to the demands of the private hospitals and changed its earlier stance on the issue of procedures that they were entitled to perform. The private hospitals had threatened not to participate in the scheme if all the procedures were not extended to them. Is the government’s change of heart to allow the private hospitals to perform all the 447 procedures because of poor response from the private hospitals as only 24 of them registered themselves to participate in the scheme to make it successful? The government decided to give the private hospitals the rights to perform all procedures despite strong opposition from the doctors of the Goa Medical College, who fear that the only medical college in the state could be deprived of the required number of patients if all the procedures under DDSSY were extended to private hospitals. Doubts have been raised in public over the sudden change of heart by the government as to why there was a change in its stance.
While the government has given in to the demands of the private hospitals, it ought to ensure that the private hospitals were adequately equipped and had all the necessary facilities to perform the procedures. Have the inspections being carried out to certify that the private hospitals have all the facilities? Besides, the government has also to find out the reasonability of the charges that these hospitals would be levying on treatment of various ailments. It is for the state authorities to ensure that these hospitals treat the patients fully and not dump them in the GMC after exhausting the funds under the scheme. The authorities would have to carry out inspections of each hospital registered under the scheme and people would have to be made aware of through various means about the facilities available in each of the enlisted hospitals. There is possibility that certain private hospitals could be short of adequate facilities as well as specialists to handle certain procedures as such awareness should be made to public about the same. To avoid the public being tricked by unscrupulous elements into getting admitted in hospitals where facilities required for treatment not being available a mass campaign should be mounted to inform the public which hospitals they could approach for certain treatments.
While Health Minister Francisco D’Souza has gone on record to allay the fears expressed by the GMC doctors about the institution falling short of the required number of patients if all the procedures were extended to private hospitals that the only medical teaching facility in the state would get required number of procedures to be performed, he has also stated that extension of all procedures to private sector hospitals would reduce the burden on the apex medical institution in the state. Fall in number of patients could come in way of GMC getting recognition to admit 150 seats for undergraduate course and the government ought to take enough precautions to ensure that the number of in patients and out-patients remains steady after the scheme is implemented. Only time will tell whether GMC would get the adequate number of patients as required under the Medical Council of India norms to get recognition. With the government deciding to lessen the burden on the GMC it must turn the hospital into a research-oriented institution and promote pioneering studies in the field of medical sciences which could be beneficial for the medical students as well as Goan public and for the advancement of medical science.

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