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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dismal Health Care

No medical care facility in Kashmir is up to even "West Africa Standards" in spite of huge budget outlays provided by the Central government to the State for medical care. Take the case of the Bone and Joint (B&J) Hospital

Lack of Funds, Poor Sanitation Hits Patient Care at B&J Hospital 

Asem Mohiuddin (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Even as the state government claims of spending crores of rupees to improve healthcare, authorities at Bone and Joint Hospital Barzulla are struggling to improve patient care for lack of funds and proper infrastructure.

The hospital also suffers due to poor sanitation since the drainage system has not been upgraded for the last 27 years. “The drainage system is as old as the hospital; nothing has been upgraded since then. So many structures have come up in the hospital premises besides the huge rush of patients,” sources said.

Against the requirement of six ambulances, the hospital has four “outdated” ambulances and no vehicle for the consultants. “In emergency cases we have to ferry our consultants in ambulances or in dead body carriers. We require at least six ambulances at this time with life support system to cater to the demand,” hospital officials said. “The ambulances available at the hospital often breakdown and consume more fuel,” they added.

The hospital is also lacking proper Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) which is important to ensure proper sanitation. Inadequate availability of funds with the hospital authorities and delay in release by the government is hampering smooth functioning of the hospital.

The shortage of funds has forced hospital authorities to write a letter to the Principal of Government Medial College, Srinagar seeking immediate release of Rs five lakh to clear the long pending liabilities of laundry contractor. The letter no BJS/PA/806-07 dated 1 June 2012 reads, “The monthly laundry bill is around Rs 70,000 and the hospital has the liability of Rs five lakh till ending May 2012 while as so far only one lakh has been released and the contractor has threatened to stop the supply of washed linen.” The letter further reads that in case the funds are not released soon, Medical Superintendent, B&J hospital should be allowed to pay contractor either from HDF funds or from revolving funds which later would be recouped.

According to sources, the government has also not provided any funds for purchasing furniture and furnishing for past many years. They said the hospital suffers from shortage of furniture while the staff has to contend with old worn out chairs to discharge their duties. “The furniture available in the hospital is outdated as it has been purchased more than eight years ago. Since then we have not received any funds to purchase the furniture.” While the hospital is receiving patients from far flung areas, non-availability of hospital inn (Sarai) is posing inconvenience to the attendants. “We have no modern Sarai here due to which the attendants with the patients either sleep in the corridors of the hospital or are forced to pay huge amount to book a hotel room,” sources said.

Meanwhile, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, A R Badoo said government is considering to install CT Scan and MRI equipments in the hospital. He said the hospital has added 35 beds in the last one year and have referred the proposal to the government for authorization. “Thirty-five beds have been increased from the existing strength and now we have sent the proposal to the government for its authorization. The CT Scan and MRI are also in the pipeline. In fact, the government is seriously considering setting up these equipments in the hospital,” he said. He said the hospital will also get Sarai assured by the Member of Planning Commission Hameeda Syed who visited the hospital last October. Badoo said the hospital operates upon patients suffering from neck fracture in 72 hours while in premier hospitals like AIMS, PGI Chandigarh such operations are conducted in five days time. He said patients whose fractures are not fixed in shortest time are either semi-emergency patients or are elderly patients with multiple ailments and need clearance from other doctors. He, however, ruled out having ICU at the hospital arguing that whenever patents require they are shifted to SKIMS. “Having an ICU in the hospital is a very costly affair and in Bone and Joint hospital we don’t require it that much. Whenever patients need it we refer them to SKIMS,” he said.

Badoo also declined the requirement of having fair price shop in the hospital. “It is not required; we have enough medical shops outside the hospital. The presence of fair price shop in hospital will unnecessarily create congestion and overcrowding,” he said.

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