Clampdown affects health services in Kashmir

Due to more than two week clampdown, the hospital staff, which includes doctors, paramedics, and others, are finding it hard to attend their duties. (AFP Photo)

Continuous restrictions and information blockade has affected health services in Kashmir valley with hospitals struggling to keep services operational.

Due to more than two week clampdown, the hospital staff, which includes doctors, paramedics, and others, are finding it hard to attend their duties. Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar and all its seven associated hospitals have put all their ambulances and official vehicles in service to ferry staff and patients.

“We are sending vehicles to Baramulla, Pulwama and across Srinagar to ensure that staff reaches to hospitals. However, due to restrictions imposed by the authorities, patients find it hard to reach to hospitals and it is beyond our competence,” a senior official at the GMC told DH.

He said patient load at largest general specialty SMHS hospital in Srinagar has dropped by more than 50% with most beds in wards and emergency areas empty. However, the official said, the causality section of the hospital was witnessing the regular flow of patients with medical and other emergencies.

Similarly, a sparse footfall of patients was recorded at LD Hospital, the lone territory care maternity in the city. A doctor said while on a routine day OPD attendance would have crossed 800 patients just over 100 patients were treated at the hospital on Tuesday. 

Across the hospitals in Srinagar, most routine surgeries have been canceled as only a few patients, who had been dated for the procedures turned up in the first two weeks of the clampdown. 

A chemist outside super-specialty SKIMS hospital in Srinagar said their stocks were depleting fast. “As we have no means to place fresh orders and transfer money to dealers in the last 15-days, no supplies are reaching. If the situation doesn’t improve in the next few days, there is a possibility that 50% of essential medicinal supplies will exhaust at most of the chemist shops,” he said. 

Even the patients and their attendants, who traveled from far-off places to Srinagar, face difficult times. “I have exhausted whatever I had. Now I am left with no money and there is no communication with my home. The treatment of my brother is costing a lot of money, but now there is nothing left,” said Lateef Ahmad, who had come from a remote village of northern Kupwara district for the treatment of his brother.

Patients who are discharged from Srinagar hospitals and have to go back to villages face another trouble. They are not able to arrange transport back home as no cab driver is willing to take a risk. A volunteer of an NGO said he has come across patients who had been carried by relatives for many kilometers before they could hitch a ride.

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