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.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Tragedy of Getting Sick in Kashmir

Medical care is a disgrace especially at Government run hospitals

Hospitals sitting on powder-keg

Mehboob Jeelani (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: The hospitals in Kashmir are sitting on a powder-keg and there is apprehension that the like HIV and Hepatitis B cases may increase in the coming days as the ragpickers are having direct access to the waste-bins of health institutions and incinerators of SMHS and SKIMS hospitals.

“The rag pickers visit the incinerators near hostel building of SMHS every evening and collect the used syringes, IV drips, injection needles and other plastic materials,” said Dr. Javaid Ahmad Bhat, Injection Safety Coordinator of Social Preventive Medicine (SPM) department of SMHS.

He said the rag pickers later sell the plastic material collected from the hospital dustbins and incinerators to rag dealers of the Valley. “The dealers supply it to the factories, where spurious disposable injections are manufactured. Most of these dealers are active in North India, so we are in a greater threat of being hit by diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B,” he said.

Recently in Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district, the outbreak of the Hepatitis-B killed 49people over the past two weeks. According to experts, the usage of unsafe injection was the main reason for the transmission of Hepatitis-B.

SPM Coordinator said if immediate action is not taken to arrest this trend, then the percentage of HIV and Hepatitis B cases in Kashmir would double in next six years.
Javaid said, “Rag pickers must be barred from collecting the used syringes, IV drips, injection needles and other plastic materials from the hospital premises”.

A ward sweeper of SKIMS, pleading anonymity, said that 80 kgs of plastic waste are collected by rag pickers everyday. “They don’t even spare used cotton, left out blood packets, needles, syringes and other stuff. The needles are as good as new ones,” he said.

The ‘violations’ are taking place despite strict orders to hospital authorities from the Directorate of Health Services that they must abide by the color coding model of bio-medical wastes. According to the color-coding model, the hospitals have been directed to put the human anatomical wastes, animal waste and micro-biological waste into yellow coloured dustbins.

As per the guidelines the ideal disposal of sharp waste is to go for autoclaving or microwaving. “If this technique is not available then chemical treatment plus mutilation and shredding is an alternative,” states the guidelines.

However, this reporter saw the doctors, paramedics and nursing staff of SMHS’s casualty section disposing off sharp waste such as tubing catheters, IV drip sets, Ryle’s tube, urinary catheter, suction catheter, chest drain catheter, blood set, glucose bottles and plastic syringes into the yellow coloured dustbins that are prone to punctures.

When contacted, Principal Government Medical College, Dr, Shahida Mir said, “We follow the set guidelines. Still I will take this issue with Medical Superintendent of the hospitals”.

A study carried out by a group of students from different medical colleges of India recently revealed that nearly 98.9 per cent injections administered were found to be unsafe.

A top SKIMS official told Rising Kashmir that the hospital authorities had strictly ordered for destroying all the injected needles.

“Unfortunately the doctors and paramedics forget to follow the directions,” he added.

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