Ailing healthcare in Anantnag belies official claims

ANANTNAG: Tall claims of the state government regarding improvement in health services notwithstanding, rural population continues to suffer for want of even basic medical facilities.
The picture is no better in Anantnag district of south Kashmir where people crave for even the basic medical requirements.
The sub-district hospitals (SDH) and primary health centers (PHCs) in various medical blocks of the district not only face staff shortage but also san basic facilities. Out of around 60 PHCs located in different rural areas of the district, only over a dozen function round the clock.
“There are two types of PHCs, normal and new type. Out of 60 PHCs in the district around 27 are new type PHCs with much better facilities than normal ones. Such types of PHCs are supposed to be functional round the clock but ironically only 14 of them function during the night hours,” a top health official posted in the district told Kashmir Reader.
The official cited lack of basic facilities and illegal deployment of staff in urban areas as the reason for these PHCs remaining defunct during night hours.
According to the reports, PHC K Kalan in medical block Bijbehara remains shut during night hours as there is no staff available to operate machines even during the day time. “X ray plant installed in the hospital ten years back remains unused till date as the technician posted in the hospital is working at some urban hospital of his choice,” local residents told Kashmir Reader.
A local sarpanch locked the hospital last year after a patient brought to the hospital during night hours died due to the non availability of the doctor. Though the hospital remained locked for five days but it changed little. Till date nothing was done to improve the facilities in the hospital.
The condition of PHC Adalach in medical block Sallar is no better with only a single ISM doctor running the hospital for over a decade. “Hospital functioning during the night hours is out of question. Even during the day time you cannot find more than a single ISM doctor assisted by a couple of paramedics,” locals told Kashmir Reader.
Both X-ray and ECG machines installed in the hospital are gathering dust as the doctors and paramedics posted in the hospital are working in other hospitals of their choice. Hospital laboratory too remains locked due to the non-availability of a technician.
The healthcare at primary health center (PHC) Srigufwara, despite being located at Tehsil headquarter, is no less messy.
The PHC is supposed to be operational 24×7, but locals trash official claims saying the hospital functions round the clock only on papers.
“One allopathic doctor is on duty for two nights while as for rest of the week Unani doctors are on duty. You can imagine health care in the hospital from the fact that not a single delivery has been handled in the hospital since it was established,” said a local Bilal Ahmad.
Residents of Pahalgam, too complain of poor healthcare facilities. Though the medical dispensary here was upgraded to sub-district hospital during PDP-Congress regime, but the officials and residents claim that nothing has changed on ground. “Even for minor injuries or tests, we have to rush to SDH Seer Hamdan or district hospital Anantnag. Authorities ensure proper healthcare facilities in the hospital during Amarnath Yatra only,” a local Mohammad Ashraf told Kashmir Reader.
At PHC Khiram, the most populous village in the area, no facilities like X-ray, ECG or USG are available. “Urine and blood sampling are all the facilities available in the hospital,” said a resident Sahil.
Interestingly, at PHC Sallar, the block headquarter, only two doctors, one allopathic and one Unani have to examine at least over two hundred patients a day.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Fazil Kochak admitted that the rural hospitals face shortage of doctors and paramedics but added that with shortage of manpower the department is trying its best to make every healthcare center function smoothly.
“We are facing severe shortage of doctors. In medical block Sallar only, we are short of at least nine doctors. But as far as non-availability of paramedics in PHCs is concerned, we will soon find some solution to the problem,” CMO told Kashmir Reader.