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.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Medical Care in Kashmir is a Disgrace

Bone and Joint Hospital suffers from inadequate facilities, poor sanitation and insufficient resources common to all hospitals in Srinagar

Bone & Joints Hospital suffers due to lack of referral system

Samaan Lateef (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: The lack of referral system in the state is causing huge inconvenience to the patients admitted in the Valley’s lone Bone and Joints (B&J) hospital at Barzulla here.

Established in 1982 for the population of about 30 lakh, the B&J hospital infrastructure has not been upgraded to cater to the growing population.

The hospital has 140 beds and the influx of patients admitted per day is more than 200, which adds to the congestion of the hospital.

The hospital is getting budget for 140 beds and has to distribute this budget into more than 200 patients, which affects the medicare and the other facilities.

This reporter visited the hospital and saw it being overcrowded, ill equipped, understaffed with inadequate medical facilities.

The condition of the hospital is unhygienic and surrounding is stinking. An insufficient stock of vital drugs and other essential articles reflect on the claims of the hospital administrators that they are coping to the needs of the patients.

In the general wards, many patients complain about the absence of paramedical and other staff even during the duty hours.

“We hardly see any para-medic when we need him,” said a patient admitted in Ward No 3. According to attendants, the food supplied to the indoor patients is below the specified quality.

“The air in the wards and corridors is sickening. Patients who want to get treated here fall sick because of the suffocation and the stink everywhere in the premises of the hospital,” said Abdul Hameed of Gojwara, an attendant.

Huge mounds of garbage, both domestic and bio-medical, lie unattended.

A large number of patients can be seen in queues awaiting the medical officers in the hospital.

Syringes, packets of unused blood, outdated foils of medicines, cotton smeared with blood, body hair are strewn around in this huge dump.

A patient Ghulam Ahmad from Sangrama in Ward No 3, expressing his anguish said, “Lack of medicare, paucity of medicine, screaming and stink is making life difficult here. Hospital authorities are in deep slumber and least bothered.”

Another patient Gowhar Shafi from Natipora accuse paramedical staff of taking bribe said, “My brother had to pay hundred bucks to paramedical staff to let me out of theatre after being operated.”

Stagnant water in trenches provide congenial environment for mosquitoes to breed and proliferate. Old tyres of hospital ambulances are heaped one over the other with stagnant water.
The hospital administrators blame its condition on the referral system.

“Lack of referral system in the health department across the valley is creating the congestion in the hospital. Patients for a single stitch also come here to be treated making the deserving patients suffer,” said Medical Superintendent Bone and Joints hospital, Muhammad Ramzan Mir.

“We have proposed to health department to make referral system implement but they don’t have open policy for it,” he added.

On infrastructure, he said the renovation of hospital will be started very soon and railway type commodes are to be fixed.

In response to the lack of open policy for implementation of referral system by health department, director health Dr Muzaffar Ahmad said, “People don’t approach district hospital for treatment instead come directly to Bone and Joints hospital. Why B&J hospital is taking those patients, which can be treated in district hospitals. They can send them back to district hospitals."

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