Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lack of Human Rights in its Most Unadultured Form

State of medical care in Kashmir truly deserves universal condemnation. Here is a case in point....

Lack of basic facilities torments patients in B&J hospital

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: The Valley's only Bones and Joints (B&J) Hospital is short of stretchers and wheelchairs and people have to ferry their patents, even with compound and multiple fractures, often on there shoulders!

“I asked for a trolley but the officer concerned didn’t respond and rather misbehaved with me and the wheelchair I haven’t seen so far,” complained Fatima Salam, an 82-years-old woman from Pulwama.

A doctor posted in Bones and Joints Hospital at Barzulla, wishing anonymity said, “If a patient with a fracture in the leg has to limp for around 200 yards for an X-ray there are chances that his/her injury would get worse." He also informed this premier hospital which receives almost six million patients a year, lacks the important diagnostic facilities like CT-Scan, Ultrasonography and other important machines.

While giving more details, the doctor said, “The hospital’s emergency theatre not only lacks important machines for treatment but the main theater where we deal with emergency cases starts after 4 pm and till then a patient has to wait."

And the irony he added is that the hospital doesn’t have any radiologist. "Mostly the patients suffering abdomen trauma or serious fractures are shifted either to SMHS or SKIMS hospitals for treatment". he said in most of the cases, during this shifting of patients to other hospitals, "their injuries get worse because of which many patients die also."

The basic requirements of any hospital of bone and joint surgery usually are of trolleys or wheelchairs and on this, one of the intern doctors said, “You are taking about the trolleys and stretchers," and pointing towards corridor where more than 200 patients were waiting for their turn to come, he added, “here patients don’t have proper place to sit, it seems as if cattle are flocked here!"

“My husband carried me on his back from the emergency ward to the X-ray room," said Shazada Nazir, who suffered a fracture in her leg. Her husband Nazir Ahmed said he had requested a nurse for a stretcher but “she said 'you are quiet healthy and instead of waiting for stretcher why don’t you take her on your back'.” Nazir lamented: “It was torturous because I apprehended my wife’s condition would get worse if she fell; you know it is so unwieldy to carry a person on your back particularly when the person is injured.”

Shabir Ahmed, an auto–rickshaw driver from the auto stand inside the hospital alleged the trolleys or wheelchairs to the hospital are “usually shifted to the private clinics of the doctors posted here and it’s the poor and the needy who suffer.”

Speaking to ‘Kashmir Images’, Medical Superintendent, Dr. Mohammed Ramzan Mir, however, said there is sufficient stock of stretchers.

“The hospital has sufficient stock of stretchers and wheelchairs but due to the huge rush of patients, which the hospital witness, it is quiet impossible to provide trolleys or wheelchairs to each patient."

Dr. Mir also blamed patients and their attendants for their "lack of moral sense: saying, "instead of returning the wheelchairs and stretchers and trolleys to their respective places, people often abandon them in open after they use these facilities."

When asked about the major equipments that the hospital lacks in, Medical Superintendent preferred not to respond and disconnected the phone.

Meanwhile, the "blame game" continues .....

Heaps of garbage trouble people at B&J hospital

Srinagar: Heaps of hospital waste remain unattended in the premises of Srinagar’s only Bones and Joints (B&J) Hospital posing serious threat to the hospital and causing great inconvenience to almost 600 people visiting the hospital everyday.

A doctor posted in B&J Hospital wishing anonymity said, “I requested medical superintendent many times to stop the dumping of waste in the hospital premises but he has not heeded it.”

He said the “unattended garbage is an open invitation to stray cattle”. The patients visiting hospital also complain of foul smell coming from the back side of the canteen, where the authorities as well as the attendants always throw their garbage.
“The foul smell coming from the waste is hard to ignore,” complained one Ghulam Mohammed, whose brother is admitted in the hospital.

“We want to refresh ourselves with a cup of tea after attending to hundreds of patients, but for the awful smell we prefer to keep away,” lamented another doctor who also didn’t want to be named for obvious reasons. “Instead of disposing the waste properly, authorities burn it down which produces lot of smoke in the area.”

Fearing the smoke might hamper the treatment of patients admitted in the hospital, a group of doctors said, “The authorities should take immediate action and ensure proper management of wastes.”

An intern also wishing not to be named said, “Although two or three color coded bins are installed within the hospital but in the end the collected garbage is dumped in same heap and that too within the hospital premises.”

Tariq Ahmed, an auto-rickshaw driver from the auto stand inside the hospital said, “The waste present in the premises is there for the last so many months and the hospital higher-ups never bother to dispose it off despite so many complaints by the staff as well as by the patients’ attendants.” He alleged the dustbins supplied to the hospital are “usually shifted to the private clinics or to the homes of the doctors posted here”.

While pointing towards garbage site an attendant, Mohammad Yusuf of Zero Bridge said, “The hospital administration is violating its own rules.” He said the cleanliness in the hospital is not being properly taken care of. “Even a healthy person may get infected let alone the improvement in the condition of patients.”

“The concerned officials should address the problem and clean the hospital of all the mess. It is their job and they get paid for it,” said another attendant Abdul Rahim.

Speaking to ‘Kashmir Images’, Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr. Mohammad Ramzan Mir, admitted that the garbage was not being properly disposed off on regular basis. He, however, blamed the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for not lifting the garbage even after several reminders from the hospital authorities.

“The SMC is all the time making lame excuses either of curfew or strike in the valley or sometimes their employees (SMC’s) are on strike; many times my Medical Officer and Sanitary Inspector personally visited the SMC for reminding them but our requests go unheeded.”

Dr. Mir said the hospital pays SMC Rs 1200 for lifting each truck of garbage “and this time also we have already paid them”.

When asked that the B&J Hospital even lacks a shed for dumping the garbage, Medical Superintended said, “Yes, every hospital has their own garbage shed and here we have space problem for the construction of the shed which is adding more to the problem of waste management although the hospital has already received funds from Principal Government Medical College (Srinagar) for the construction of the garbage shed.”

However, ten came another rider: “Now that we have identified the place inside the premises which has many Chinar trees, but the concerned agency which has to cut those trees is not taking the job seriously and is doing nothing except making excuses even as we have also received the permission from Deputy Commissioner Srinagar for cutting those Chinar trees,” Dr. Mir added.

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