AIIMS debate rekindled in Kerala after Union minister Suresh Gopi’s statement leaves state in suspense

Gopi, shortly after taking office, said that AIIMS would be coming to Kerala but clarified that it would not be in Kozhikode, a location previously speculated upon.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Jun 14, 2024 | 8:00 AM Updated Jun 14, 2024 | 8:00 AM

AIIMS debate rekindled in Kerala after Union minister Suresh Gopi’s statement leaves state in suspense

The long-standing debate over establishing an All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Kerala has once again ignited fervent discussions.

This resurgence of interest coincides with the appointment of two Union Ministers from Kerala, Suresh Gopi and George Kurian, raising hopes among the state’s political factions and the public.

Both the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) have been vocal about the necessity for these ministers to prioritize bringing AIIMS to Kerala.

However, the discourse took an intriguing turn when Suresh Gopi, shortly after taking office, made a statement. He assured that AIIMS would indeed be coming to Kerala but clarified that it would not be in Kozhikode, a location previously speculated upon.

Gopi then stated that he had identified an alternative site for the prestigious medical institution, which he had already communicated to relevant authorities, including the chief minister.

This announcement has left the state in suspense, with many eagerly awaiting further details on the proposed location.

Also Read: Pinarayi Vijayan urges Centre to set up AIIMS in Kozhikode

State on tenterhooks over AIIMS location 

The central question being discussed now is: Where is the location Suresh Gopi mentioned? Upon assuming office, Gopi told media persons that he would definitely work towards establishing AIIMS in Kerala.

However, when asked if it would be in Kozhikode, the district prioritised by the state government for setting up AIIMS, he said, “Forget it,” and stated that the priority is for a mostly underdeveloped area.

“If AIIMS comes there, many allied developments will occur. Since 2016, I have been in touch with the chief minister, and the then Union Health Minister JP Nadda, who is now handling the same portfolio. Thus, AIIMS will become a reality,” Gopi stated.

He reiterated his stance when he arrived at Kozhikode, the first visit to the state after assuming the post as a Union minister.

Despite his assurances, the suspense surrounding the exact location he has in mind continues to linger, keeping the state on tenterhooks.

It is said that the place which Gopi mentioned might either be Kasargod or Alappuzha.

Also Read: Union Budget 2024 ignored Kerala’s interests, says Chief Minister Vijayan

Controversy surrounding site location

Going by the tip-off from Gopi, Kasargod might be a strong contender.

Given his interventions among endosulfan victims in the district, Gopi knows that Kasargod needs a tertiary care health centre. The difficulties that the district faced during the time of COVID is also there in the public domain.

At the same time, as reports emerge that Kasargod might be the place that Gopi mentioned, associations like AIIMS Kasaragod Janakeeya Kootayma, have once again become active.

The association had earlier alleged that the state government, which is giving priority to Kinaloor in Kozhikode for AIIMS, has done so without conducting any study or adhering to the principles of the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) scheme.

Reiterating its demand that AIIMS should come to the northernmost district of the state, the Kootayma has also approached the Kerala High Court citing the urgent need for having an advanced medical centre like AIIMS.

Meanwhile, MK Raghavan, who was re-elected from Kozhikode has not taken the ‘forget it’ comment lightly.

According to him, the establishment of AIIMS in Kerala has been under discussion for more than 15 years and such comments from persons who hold responsible posts should not jeopardize this long pending dream.

“It was due to space constraints that Kinalur in Kozhikode was selected. Land acquisition process has begun. A Central team has also visited the proposed site. At this juncture such statements might create confusion among people as well as the concerned,” said Raghavan.

Earlier, the state government had informed that it had identified and proposed four sites for the establishment of AIIMS in the state: Kinaloor in Kozhikode, Kattakada Taluk in Thiruvananthapuram, a place in Kottayam and a place in Ernakulam.

However, the Union government has not finalized any location.

Also Read: 29,000 AIIMS posts filled across India for full functionality: Union HM Mandaviya

Why AIIMS?

Despite the state achieving many milestones in the public health sector, health officials stated that AIIMS would bring additional advanced capabilities, specialized care, research opportunities, and overall improvements in medical education and public health.

They pointed out that it would not only elevate the state’s healthcare standards but also ensure that Kerala remains at the forefront of medical excellence in India.

“AIIMS is known for its cutting-edge medical facilities and advanced healthcare technologies. Even with Kerala’s well-established health infrastructure, an AIIMS-like institution would elevate the quality and scope of medical services available, providing access to the latest treatments and procedures,” said a health official to South First.

The official also stated that  AIIMS might also address regional disparities in healthcare access and quality within the state as it will provide top-tier medical services and will act as a referral centre for complex cases from across the state.

According to the Union Health Ministry, AIIMS is being set up in various parts of the country to address the gaps in tertiary healthcare infrastructure.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)

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