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In Kashmir Hospital Labs go Defunct

Ishfaq Mir (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Diagnostic equipment worth crores is lying defunct in Valley’s three tertiary-care hospitals for want of reagents costing just few thousand rupees.

Sources in the Health department told Rising Kashmir that the three principal hospitals – SMHS, G B Pant (Children’s Hospital) and Lal Ded Hospital – crave for chemical reagents needed for diagnostic tests, thereby compelling doctors to ask patients to approach private testing labs.

Sources said the hospital authorities have themselves rendered the equipment useless, as part of their ‘agreement’ with the private testing labs.

Defunct Healthcare in SMHS:

According to sources, the hi-tech machines meant for endoscopy tests in the hospital are lying defunct for the past year-and-half for want of reagents. Similarly, no test has been conducted in the neurophysiology lab for the past three months.

“There is no arrangement for the vital Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) test in this lab. Although the equipment is available, there are no reagents. We are also not able to conduct electromyography and neurography tests. The reagents cost just Rs 3000-4000 but we fail to understand why the hospital administration is so reluctant to buy these,” said a technician working in SMHS hospital, on condition of anonymity. “We are compelled to refer the patients to private labs, who charge hefty amounts. We have no choice,” he added.

There is only one USG machine in the hospital, and available only till 8 pm. “In case of emergency, we have to send a vehicle to the concerned doctor to get his services,” the hospital employees said.

G B Pant Hospital, no different:

Even though the Medical Council of India recently granted recognition to the paediatric department of GMC Srinagar and its associated hospitals, no blood test has been done in the hospital for the last two months. Despite having a full-fledged lab, the patients are sent to SMHS hospital in the ambulance and a doctor has to accompany them to get the blood tests done.

Sources inside the hospital said even urine examination is denied by the technicians, citing lack of reagents as reason.

The Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Analyzer machine donated to the hospital and costing Rs 5 lakh, is not working since October 2008.

The USG Lab closes at 4 pm. Once the doctor leaves, nobody takes the charge of the lab thereafter. All the required tests after 4 pm are done outside the hospital.
Of the six ventilators donated by renowned doctors of Valley working outside, two have developed minor technical snag but the government has not even been able to get them rectified.

Lal Ded Hospital:

Despite being the lone maternity hospital of tertiary care nature, there is no Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the hospital, while the USG lab – like that of SMHS hospital – closes at 4 pm, causing the patients to suffer.

Like SMHS, B&J Hospital Barzulla does not have any Post Operative Ward.

Admitting the problems in Valley hospitals, Minister for Health and Medical Education, R S Chib said, “Although there is an improvement but the hospitals continue to be overloaded. We are not absolutely self-sufficient in equipment but lack of reagents shouldn’t be an excuse. I will look into the matter and straightaway direct my officers to take immediate steps in this regard.”