ARC in SMHS hospital runs without ARV

Srinagar: The Anti-Rabies Clinic (ARC) at the SMHS hospital does not have lifesaving drugs, and minor surgical items like syringes to treat thousands of patients visiting the clinic for dog bites.
“This centre runs on help from other units of the hospital. We don’t have anti-rabies vaccine. We borrow glucose from our colleagues in the casualty unit. Even the patients visiting the centre have to buy syringes from the open market before we treat them,” A paramedic at the ARC, wishing not to be named, due to fear of reprisal from the authorities, told Kashmir Reader Wednesday.
The ARC with six staff members is run by the Social Preventive Medicine (SPM) department inside the two dingy rooms of the SMHS hospital. In past, SPM would procure drugs and surgical items for the centre to run it smoothly. However, from last two years, the department is devoid of drugs, the paramedic said.
“After taking charge as the Principal, Government Medical College, Dr Rafiq Pampori dissolved the purchase committees. As a result, the SPM doesn’t procure drugs for the centre anymore,” he said, adding “The principal said that there will be centralized procurement of drugs. However, we are yet to see that happen,
Another employee said that the people were at the receiving end due to the unavailability of the drugs. The patients, he said, have to buy drugs and syringes from the market before their treatment starts.
“A few days ago, an old woman from Kupwara came here for treatment. She did not have enough money to buy anti-rabies vaccine. Later, the staffers pooled money and brought the drug from the open market. This is the pathetic scene of healthcare at the centre,” the employee said.
“We were beaten several times by the patients and their attendants over the unavailability of drugs and surgical items. We fear things might turn ugly someday,” he added.
Mushtaq Ahmad of north Kashmir, who was bitten in leg, told Kashmir Reader that he was asked by the ARC paramedics to buy vaccine from open market or SKIMS, Soura.
“I had money to buy vaccines from open market. What about those who don’t have?” he said.
Dr Saleem Khan, HoD, SPM acknowledged that the centre does not have lifesaving drugs to treat the serious dog bite patients.
“But we do have ample stock of anti-rabies vaccine to treat patients. We have sufficient stock of syringes and glucose too. Sometimes, it happens that we don’t have it readily available,” he said.
Principal, GMC, Dr Rafiq Pampori could not be reached for comments since he is abroad.