Apollo and Fortis groups have been allowed to open hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir under a public-private partnership programme.
"Work on these hospitals is expected to start in three months and the new hospitals by Apollo and Fortis would start functioning in another 18 months," according to a senior government official here.
The government has provided land free of cost in Jammu and Srinagar for the hospitals. In turn they have been asked to treat 25 percent of patients coming humble economic background free of charge.
"It is part of our effort to provide quality health care to people all over the state," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. "This will also save money and time of poor patients who visit Delhi and other big cities for specialized treatment."
Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most backward states in health care. Only 141 beds are available for a population of 100,000 and there are only 39 doctors for every 100,000 people.
In the rural areas, the health services are in doldrums due doctors' refusal to serve there.
"The idea behind this (to allow private hospitals) is to bring quality health services to Jammu and Kashmir. We hope that in the days to come we would be able to take such high quality hospitals under the public private partnership scheme to other districts," Health Minister Mangat Ram Sharma told IANS.
However, doctors from outside the state may hesitate to work in Jammu and Kashmir because of the insurgency and the new hospitals might have to recruit locally qualified medics.
In that eventuality, the doctors in government hospitals might shift to these high-paying private hospitals at the cost of the state health care system.
Official sources said that the government was looking into this aspect but so far no policy had been framed regarding this.