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.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Medical Care is Lousy, but Would the Civil Society Care?

If NGO's dealing with social and human development would worry less about politics and more about their civic charter, may be the life would be better for sick Kashmiris needing hospital care

In Kashmir Hospital Labs go Defunct

Ishfaq Mir (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Diagnostic equipment worth crores is lying defunct in Valley’s three tertiary-care hospitals for want of reagents costing just few thousand rupees.

Sources in the Health department told Rising Kashmir that the three principal hospitals - SMHS, G B Pant (Children's Hospital) and Lal Ded Hospital - crave for chemical reagents needed for diagnostic tests, thereby compelling doctors to ask patients to approach private testing labs.

Sources said the hospital authorities have themselves rendered the equipment useless, as part of their ‘agreement’ with the private testing labs.

Defunct Healthcare in SMHS:

According to sources, the hi-tech machines meant for endoscopy tests in the hospital are lying defunct for the past year-and-half for want of reagents. Similarly, no test has been conducted in the neurophysiology lab for the past three months.

“There is no arrangement for the vital Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) test in this lab. Although the equipment is available, there are no reagents. We are also not able to conduct electromyography and neurography tests. The reagents cost just Rs 3000-4000 but we fail to understand why the hospital administration is so reluctant to buy these,” said a technician working in SMHS hospital, on condition of anonymity. "We are compelled to refer the patients to private labs, who charge hefty amounts. We have no choice,” he added.

There is only one USG machine in the hospital, and available only till 8 pm. “In case of emergency, we have to send a vehicle to the concerned doctor to get his services,” the hospital employees said.

G B Pant Hospital, no different:

Even though the Medical Council of India recently granted recognition to the paediatric department of GMC Srinagar and its associated hospitals, no blood test has been done in the hospital for the last two months. Despite having a full-fledged lab, the patients are sent to SMHS hospital in the ambulance and a doctor has to accompany them to get the blood tests done.

Sources inside the hospital said even urine examination is denied by the technicians, citing lack of reagents as reason.

The Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Analyzer machine donated to the hospital and costing Rs 5 lakh, is not working since October 2008.

The USG Lab closes at 4 pm. Once the doctor leaves, nobody takes the charge of the lab thereafter. All the required tests after 4 pm are done outside the hospital.
Of the six ventilators donated by renowned doctors of Valley working outside, two have developed minor technical snag but the government has not even been able to get them rectified.

Lal Ded Hospital:

Despite being the lone maternity hospital of tertiary care nature, there is no Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the hospital, while the USG lab - like that of SMHS hospital - closes at 4 pm, causing the patients to suffer.

Like SMHS, B&J Hospital Barzulla does not have any Post Operative Ward.

Admitting the problems in Valley hospitals, Minister for Health and Medical Education, R S Chib said, “Although there is an improvement but the hospitals continue to be overloaded. We are not absolutely self-sufficient in equipment but lack of reagents shouldn’t be an excuse. I will look into the matter and straightaway direct my officers to take immediate steps in this regard.”

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