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, November 2, 2011

People in Distress

Action Aid says Kashmir lacks facilities to treat people with mental diseases

Valley in Psychiatric Mess, Patients Suffer for Want of Facilities

Shahnawaz Majid (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: While perpetual armed conflict in Kashmir has led to increase in psychological problems among people here, lack of mental health-care facilities has worsened the same, a research carried out by an international organization reveals.

“Sense of insecurity, exposure to sufferings, abuses, instigation to and participation in violence, choked atmosphere that blocks avenues of expression, humiliations, torture, death of those in proximity, rape, feeling for revenge, tragedies, break down of family structures and traditional mechanisms of care remain some of the causes which are indispensable consequences of conflict situations,” the research says.

The research titled “Research Study on Status of Implementation of Provisions on National Mental Health Act in J&K” was conducted by Action Aid, an international non-governmental organization.

“Traditional mechanisms of care crumbled in various ways with health-care system facing paucity of manpower. Whatever care existed in the form of mental hospital Srinagar, became inaccessible on account of hazards involved in travel and stay in Srinagar. On top of it, psychologically disordered persons became vulnerable targets in encounters,” the research informs.

According to Mental Health Act of 1987, it is obligatory for the state to create a mechanism for licensing and monitoring mental health-care facilities.

“State has created such authority but it remains nonfunctional because there are no recognized mental health-care facilities in private sector. Whatever exists is unlicensed as no license has ever been issued by the Authority,” it adds.

These facilities are supposed to be monitored by Mental Health Authority. However, no such authority exists in Kashmir.

As per the research “There are OPD facilities available within Psychiatric Diseases Hospital in Srinagar. However, no such facilities are available at primary or secondary health-care centres in the Valley. The procedures relating to admission of patient within mental hospital are observed but the requirements of the Act relating to security of their property and providing them legal aid is not taken care of.”

The Act provides for penalties to those who admit a normal person into psychiatric care. The Act also imposes several responsibilities upon police which include admitting a person with psychological disorders into psychiatric hospitals and penalizing the ones involved in the neglect and harsh treatments to such patients.

According to the Action Aid research, no records have been provided by the police relating to this aspect of duties.

“The psychiatrists appointed in other hospitals are not exclusively utilized for mental health-care. They are made to work as general medical practitioners. Wherever they are involved in psychiatric care, it is through their individual initiative. Most of the positions for psychiatrists in the Valley are unfulfilled,” it adds.

The study suggests enactment of local mental health legislations which reflects international standards and provides for framework for integration of mental health-care with general health-care.

“One of the prime reasons of non-adherence of mental health-care standards is unfamiliarity of those who are in this job.”

For this purpose, the study suggested creation of mental health manual so that everyone involved in mental health-care is familiar with his/her assignments and responsibilities.

1 comment:

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