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PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals

It is welcome news: the plan of Chennai Corporation to use the services of private doctors to man its hospitals in the evenings. The initiative is to outsource medical services taking the help of sponsors from the private sector and agencies which are expected to address the shortage of close to a third of doctors in Corporation hospitals and is intended to benefit few lakhs of dwellers in slums and poor habitats.  Until some three decades ago, Corporation hospitals and dispensaries were run efficiently. They took care of the needs of not just the poor, but also patients from middle class. Vaccinations against small pox were done exclusively at these. Most of these maintained good stock of medicines, were hygienic and offered quality treatment.

Remember, the remuneration packages for doctors in those times were not so high!

Apathy and unconcern spread after the 1980s; there was the protection of service, increasing dilution of standards, rapid politicisation in recruitments, transfers… and increase in levels of corruption that have led to the present state of decay. The dispensaries and hospitals are endowed with expensive infrastructure, but lacks in quality of service and management.

I suggest the Corporation to go the whole hog in opting for the private-public participation mode. In this, the considerable expertise and funding through Corporate Social Responsibility objectives could be utilised in upgrading and effectively utilising the infrastructure so readily available. But, the mindset of state control and patronage so ingrained in the political leadership would not permit such a paradigm shift. The AIADMK would be afraid of the instant opposition from DMK’s Karunanidhi, who prides over his communist leanings, other political outfits and also from trade unions.  IE has suggested the PPP route for rapidly and massively transforming the close to 300 schools run by the Corporation of Chennai, sadly, to no effect.  The malaise is deep-rooted and cannot be cured by adhoc, half-hearted measures. An impossible situation needs drastic remedies. Mayor Duraisamy conceives of such changes. I wish he takes it to the logical next step. The PPP mode will be honourable for both the parties and leverage the strengths of both. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa should take bold to depart from a linear conventional thinking and attempt a  big change.  She should attempt a Hanuman jump.

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