Much hyped, no work has begun on researching J & K’s medical tourism potential, the pandemic, and the prevailing health care system, further delaying the outlook.

In 2019, J & K’s state board of directors passed the 2019 State Healthcare Investment Policy, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship to improve health infrastructure in the state. The guideline spoke of health resorts promoting health and wellness tourism as J&K with its numerous popular travel destinations and pristine locations. In addition, J&K opened up to private actors for infrastructure development in the health sector. Two medical cities were also discussed to give investors space to start medical and health projects.

However, almost two years later, J&K has yet to adopt one of these plans. A specialist from SKIMS Soura said the “immense potential” of health tourism has long been ignored at J&K. The delay in these projects cost J & K on many fronts. The doctor said that because of the poor infrastructure, thousands of patients seek medical advice and treatment in hospitals outside of J&K. “A resilient private sector could help reduce patient costs and keep the growing numbers of medical and para-medicine graduates and specialists employed,” he said.

The specialist said that J&K is losing skilled workers to the health sector outside. “Like many of our oncologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, neonatologists and other specialists, they chose to work outside just because they couldn’t find a way around here,” he said.

J & K’s tourism sector has also long drawn government attention to realizing the potential of parallel travel routes. “If we had a good health sector here, tourists could come for treatment and relax here too,” said Ghulam Hassan Monga, a senior tourism operator from the city of Srinagar.

Atal Dulloo, finance commissioner for health and medical education, said J&K had issued invitations to the private and corporate sectors and discussions were ongoing with many. Regarding the identification of land for medical urban development, he said the government had been studying sites and doing feasibility studies. “We have not yet received a formal proposal in this area,” he said.

The FC said the pandemic has postponed the schedules and the government is currently focused on improving health infrastructure. “Improving health care at J&K will also help with medical tourism plans,” he said, adding that human resource development is part of the focus.