Abysmal and unresponsive healthcare infrastructure in border areas
From Kamran Ashraf
Residents of remote Karen, close to Line of Control in northwest Kashmir allege that the condition of healthcare system is failing to serve them. Falling sick here immediately puts your life at grave risk. At least six persons during the last three months died because of not getting timely medical attention from the local Primary Health Center (PHC) in Karen.
In December 2016, Haji Nazir Ahmed, Seraj-ud-din Khan and Heborlak Lone died because of not having any type of emergency response from P.H.C after feeling ill. In January 2017, Sheekela beigum w/o Naseer Khan and Parveena Beigum w/o Rasheed Lone died because of the same reason, local villagers allege.
“As winter comes all roads get blocked and patients suffer the most. Air transport hardly helps the needy persons. When anyone gets ill we have to take him to Sub District Hospital Kupwara (SDH) which takes a lot of time and many a time patients do not survive because of the absence of any emergency response facility in the PHC. Not enough medicines are available, doctors and nurses rarely visit their respective assigned places. Sub-centers remain almost shut always. Assembly members (MLAs) hardly listen to us they only visit when they have to deliver their party agenda in speeches and campaigns. Nobody listens to us in this otherwise fast advancing world. Even for a simple paracetamol tablet we have to spend a few hundred rupees to reach medical shops in Kupwara town. PHC Karen is facing medicine crises,’’ said Naseem-ul-Islam, a local resident of Karen.
Meanwhile, the Block Medical Officer, Mir Shafi said these reports are not entirely right, insisting that enough of medical facility was available in the remote border area.
“I have sent all required medicine in trucks there; we have no medicine crises in Karen area. Employees maintain duty level very well, we have three doctors and they follow strictly their duty roster. We have PHC in Karen and it can treat patients within its potential,’’ said Dr. Shafi, adding, “I personally visited this LoC area when there was heavy shelling from the other side and made every facility possible for locals.”
But the border residents are not happy with what they have to deal with during winters if anyone falls seriously ill.