“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Everyone knows that condition of government health facilities in Kashmir is a disgrace. Shahid describes one such dysfunctional facility, followed by the editorial in the Rising Kashmir which correctly states that any reset should begin from primary care clinics in districts

(Mr. Shahid Kar, 28, was born in Sopore. He went to the Muslim Educational Trust (MET) Public School, and received his Bachelor’s degree from the Government Degree College Sopore. Mr. Kar completed his Master’s in English Literature from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi. He is currently a Contractual Lecturer in the J & K Higher Education Department. Mr. Kar has attended and spoken in many national and state seminars.)

Lalla Ded: Hospital or Hell?

Kashmir, an unfortunate patch of the cosmos and mistakenly dubbed as “heaven”, is a region where life and death have become synonymous. There is no gainsaying that Lalla Ded Hospital, the only maternity hospital in the valley, ranks second to none amongst the worst and ramshackle hospitals.

It is, surely, not the worst and dilapidated today but was all along in every regime, and perhaps will remain as such until hell freezes over. What is inside the hospital may truly and equally be in the hell. Let me commence from the Emergency Door. The curtain hanging at the door is so grubby that one has to get one’s handkerchief out of his pocket and glue it onto the curtain in order to draw it back. This helps in keeping one’s hand tidy and hygienic. Instantly after getting inside the Emergency one can’t, despite making tremendous efforts, be able to find even a single piece of stretcher by dint of which one can carry one’s patient inside. Then the only option for one is to bribe the assistant on duty in order to get the stretcher. More is the pity, the stretcher acquired is lame. Being helpless one has to manage with this stretcher somehow or anyhow. The paper work in the hospital is as much complicated as less it ought to have been as the employee allotted for the paper job is slothful coupled with a wrinkle on his brow and shrewd enough to feign deaf and dumb. Consequently, a good number of patients untimely turn up their toes. The patients who somehow manage to survive in the Emergency are dispatched to superstructure and what comes to pass there with them is another tale of woe to be recited. They are coerced to lie on the surface as there is a dearth of beds and bed linens. Each bed is occupied by two patients. One will decidedly wonder how it is possible for two persons to lie on a single four feet in width. Humorous to say but pathetic to feel, one lies on the bed by holding the head towards north and other towards south. Where one’s head is, others are feet and vice-versa. But one has to endure the unendurable as one can’t afford to opt out. How much money is provided to ensure the availability of medicine in this maternity institute may be behind the scenes but how much is spared for the purpose can well be beheld, felt and known. Hanging boards are full of the list of drugs available but on grounds only syringe and dextrose 5% have been kept there.

When the day reaches almost one fourth of its span, a caravan of doctors comes out to have a supervision and examination of the patients lying on the beds with pang and distress. But the moment it dusks there are some other entities that perform the same job with different objectives. These entities are cats and rats. Availing the facility of darkness these entities pounce upon the patients to bite them or take away their babies in mouth thereby leaving no option for the patients but to bewail their plight by pounding chest, smacking forehead and uprooting hair. It never holds true of other city hospitals, SKIMS and SMHS.

Every thing of Lalla Ded Hospital deserves separate description. Grubby enough to lend such a bad smell as tonnes of fragrance will fail to breed a smell contrary to this. In other words, if somebody doesn’t vomit after having sniffed at something in the hospital s/he doesn’t have a sense of smell. Scientifically, it is not within the realms of possibility for anyone to get his or her life saved in this hospital. Nevertheless, whosoever escapes is a miracle.

No one seems enthusiastic about this maternity institute. Have they really called it a day? Isn’t there a dire need of timely renovation, able administration and supervision? Isn’t it indispensable to have at least one maternity hospital in every district, if not in every tehsil? Those in powers only know to make assertions that are nothing but a bundle of lies. They sign a pledge that fizzles out like a bubble. By duping people in the name of fabrication, development, rehabilitation and the like, they go on hoarding. One wonders in surmise as to what will be the future if such things will not be held on. If truth be told, authorities are there to play dice with our lives and make a mockery of us.

Lessen the Burden:

Govt must strengthen rural healthcare before expecting efficiency from city hospitals
(Rising Kashmir Editorial)

Notwithstanding the claims of successive governments to revamp the healthcare across the state, the hospitals in Srinagar continue to bear the ever growing burden of patents from different parts of the valley. This is bound to affect the efficiency of doctors and subsequently the patient care.

The reliance on city hospitals is necessitated by poor infrastructure in the sub-district hospitals and public health centres in rural areas. Besides, even if the infrastructure is in place, doctors dither to work in far off places thereby forcing people to seek treatment in the city. Take for instance Lalded Hospital. One would have expected the hospital to cater mainly to city and adjoining areas, but it continues to receive most of the patients from rural areas. The massive rush witnessed by the hospital tells upon its functioning. Reports of medical negligence, often leading to violent altercation between the hospital staff and attendants, has marred the reputation of the valley’s biggest maternity hospital.

Though the maternity facility is available in all district hospitals, Lalded Hospital continues to bear their share of patients throughout the year. With the capacity for around 400 patients, one can well imagine the crisis triggered by the excess patient burden. No wonder one can see two patients on a single bed in the hospital. Though a separate building with the capacity for 220 beds is under construction, one cannot expect it to bring any major relief for the hospital, given the ever increasing population and poor state of rural healthcare. Lalded hospital bears the brunt even when 30 public health centers (PHCs) are functional in all districts. Anantnag, Baramulla and Kupwara each have four PHCs, Budgam has six, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam have two each while Ganderbal and Bandipora have one each. Other city hospitals, particularly SMHS and SKIMS also suffer from over-burden which ultimately tells upon their efficiency.

Official figures indicate the exponential increase in the patient flow at the two premier hospitals. The problems caused by the huge patient influx are further compounded by the lack of requisite infrastructure. Increasing bed strength won’t address the problem. The government should focus on strengthening the healthcare at all levels so that the city hospitals don’t have to bear the excess burden. There is also a dire need for effective monitoring of various health schemes so that common people can avail their benefits adequately. The authorities should ensure close vigil on the hospitals. They should also check the growth of nursing homes conducting regular inspections and initiate action against those not fulfilling the mandatory norms and formalities. The pending projects should also be completed in the scheduled timeframe.