By Ishfaq Reshi
Budgam: Unavailability of ambulances at majority of health centres in central Kashmir’s Budgam district is hitting the healthcare system in the area and compelling patients to hire private transport in emergency situations.
According to official records there are 72 ambulances available for 180 health centers of the district falling in10 medical blocks, however, only 60 are in working condition and rest are off road for one or other reason.
Dozens of health centres which cater to a large chunk of population lack ambulance facilities. An official told Kashmir Reader that Medical Block Khag has only three ambulances on road out of five on documents; two of them being in bad condition.
Primary Health Centre (PHC) Poshker caters to a large number of patients but shortage of ambulances has hit patient referrals, a doctor at the hospital said.
He said that the PHC has two ambulances available on papers but “due to official negligence one is missing from last few months”.
The ambulance at PHC Lassipora was condemned a few years ago but so far a new ambulance has not been provided to it. Similarly, PHCs at Chewdara, Tchurmugroo, Lassipora Drung, Tilsara, Nowpora, Watkaloo, Nilnaag, Khirigund, Wadwan and Pahroo either have no ambulance or have ambulances in deteriorated conditions.
Residents of Gondipora alleged that an ambulance meant for the local PHC has been kept at SDH Beerwah making patients of the area suffer in emergencies.
A medical officer at PHC Gondipora told Kashmir Reader that the centre had one ambulance allotted, but document reveal that it has two ambulances alloted.
“Shortage of ambulances in the health centres of Budgam district has been causing inconvenience to pregnant ladies and their families who have to hire private vehicles in case of emergency,” said a medical officer from block Chrar wishing anonymity.
Another doctor said that the patients have to travel on foot in emergencies during night hours in the winters.
Out of 11 ambulances on papers in block Beerwah only eight was in service. Chief Medical Officer Budgam, Dr G M Dar, however, said that there are 72 ambulances in the district. “We have also 20 more ambulances available from RBSK vehicles in case of emergency. If any pregnant lady hires a private vehicle, our office pays them the dues,” Dar said.
He also added that 10 ambulances were in workshops and would be functional soon.
Contrary to Dar’s claims, documents reveal that no RBSK vehicle has been hired by the department to counter the shortage.