Centre's pan - India AIIMS initiative is a dud
Even as AIIMS in New Delhi continues to battle a heavy inflow of patients from all across the country, the Centre's pan India AIIMS initiative is progressing with an ant's pace. Although the Central government has pledged to open at least 11 AIIMS like hospital specialties in the country, only six have become functional until now. They are the ones that have been opened in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Raipur, Rishikesh, and Jodhpur, leaving patients in the northeast or far south crying for attention.
Since most of the hospitals in India are not super specialty ones and lack the infrastructure and amenities of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, people continue to flock to New Delhi for treatment, giving a nightmare to the medical staff who find themselves grossly under-staffed in proportion to the patients' influx.
Adding to the pressure is the fact that the Centre is faced with 17 new requests from various states demanding setting up of AIIMS like hospitals. This year, the Narendra Modi led Union government had pledged the opening of such care-unit in Jharkhand and Gujarat but not much progress was witnessed.
It was in the year 2004-2005 that the then Atal Beharivajpayee led BJP government had announced that regional AIIMS will be developed in states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal which is now Uttarakhand. The government of the time had also promised to upgrade existing facilities in Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
But the UPA government that came to power progressed on the front at a rather slow pace and took 10 years to complete the projects. Except in the constituency of Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's Raebareli, and in Raiganj, no new AIIMS were announced in the period spanning 2005-2014.
When Narendra Modi came to power, he announced that the work on opening regional AIIMS will be given priority but again very little has been achieved so far in this direction. In the union budget of 2015-16, the government made a declaration of six new AIIMS—IN Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Bihar (second AIIMS). But we will have to wait to see if the promise is kept.
The pathetic doctor to patient ratio continues to burden India's healthcare system for the time being. Most patients in the rural areas and even semi-urban areas have to continue to flock to the metros for treatment, significantly raising the healthcare charges.
When Narendra Modi came to power, he announced that the work on opening regional AIIMS will be given priority but again very little has been achieved so far in this direction.