Himachal Pradesh: The premier Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), Shimla is in the midst of golden jubilee celebrations. The pass outs from the college have made it big in different fields and are now serving in the best of institutions in the country and abroad. The IGMC has a reason to celebrate also because all these years, it has provided succor to the poorest of the poor people from the remotest corners of the hill state.
People come in great distress to the oldest medical college hospital in HP and go back smiling, with the committed government doctors doing their best within available facilities. There could be exceptions in behavior, but generally, the generosity of the doctors in IGMC could be gauged from the fact that they themselves process the case for Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, if they find someone too poor to afford the treatment cost even in the government hospital. On the whole, the medical college and the hospital has shaped up well and is advancing well with new post graduate courses and the hospital facilities.
On the whole, the institution has been able to win the trust of common man in HP- over 70% of whom are dependent on the government institutions for health care. A number of cases have to be referred to the PGI, Chandigarh from IGMC, however, even after 50 years of existence. Another irritant is the lack of faith shown by politicians, influential people or richer ones on the premier health hospital in the state. They often prefer medical treatment outside the state, mostly in PGI, Chandigarh, AIIMS, Delhi or other high end private hospitals in the North. This ‘frame of mind’ somewhere puts a question mark on health care systems in the state. More so, because a good number of doctors serving outside the state, whether it is PGI, AIIMS or other private hospitals, are the pass outs of IGMC.
If doctors are the same, then where lies the gap? The answer probably is the problem in institutional mechanism and the lack of supportive facilities to the doctors, which nowhere match with those in premier hospitals outside the state.The doctors in IGMC are
over-burdened, they don’t have assisting staff in the required numbers and the facilities for advanced diagnosis in many departments are lacking. All this leads to obvious gaps, including inefficient handling, many a times. The comfort level that a patient gets in IGMC is far less than the PGI, AIIMS or other private hospitals outside Himachal. And probably, the rich can do away with money for comfort. Those, who don’t have money, have to
compromise with the comfort. There are general
problems too. The wards in IGMC are over-crowded for the rush of patients. The special wards are fine, but the general wards have bad toilets. The
administration, despite best of efforts can’t help it, again for lack of required staff and often, the budget. Rather, it is not with the IGMC alone, the health institutions across the state are facing these problems. There is namesake upgradation of health institutions across the rural areas of the state, but the facilities are not provided.There is acute shortage of specialists and with the government not sticking to a proper transfer policy for the doctors, their postings are irrational and selective.
This leads to whole lot of problems for the people, who ultimately land up in IGMC hospital, referred from different corners of the state, only to see the similar problems coming their way in the state hospital also.
The Tanda Medical College, which came up in late 90s, and four other medical colleges at Nahan, Hamirpur Chamba and Mandi, which are coming up, will take their time to reach the level of IGMC. But for the people of the state, the best thing the government can do on the golden jubilee of the IGMC is to show commitment to fill the gaps in institutional mechanism, equip the doctors with advanced equipment and give them work comfort. There is need to bring professionalism in the functioning of IGMC so that it catches up with any other premier hospital outside the state.The government will have to shed the approach of treating it as any sarkari hospital.