Srinagar: The theory and practice in rural hospitals of Kashmir is this: if the doctor is female, then the place for her is the maternity ward.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that hundreds of female doctors, whatever be their qualification and specialty, even if Unani and Ayurvedic medicine, are being made to handle cases that properly need a gynaecologist or obstetrician to attend to.
“Only 15 gynaecologists are available for more than 1,500 health institutions in Kashmir. The posts are either vacant or not sanctioned. Some of the posts have been abandoned by influential doctors who are working in Srinagar hospitals, having found a way to escape rural posting,” an administrator told Kashmir Reader, quoting official figures.
He said that untrained female doctors were being asked to do night duties in maternity wards by district health officers under the roster system.
As per official data, there are 28 posts of gynaecologists in hospitals of rural Kashmir. Of the doctors appointed on these posts, 13 are posted in Srinagar hospitals on deputation.
“Only three district hospitals – of Pulwama, Baramulla, and Anantnag – have one gynaecologist available. Other health institutions are working without a gynaecologist,” the administrator said.
Doctors in district hospitals said that where gynaecologists were not available, female doctors from other departments were given the charge.
“In some hospitals, Unani and Ayurvedic doctors working under ISM Department and RBSK scheme are being forced to conduct gynaecological procedures and handle emergency maternity cases,” said a doctor working at Pulwama District Hospital.
In some district hospitals, a lone lady doctor has to manage the OPD, maternity services, and operations like caesarean section.
“The problem is due to the failure of the government to create new posts of gynaecologists. Some of the gynaecologists are working in Srinagar in different hospitals or on administrative postings,” the doctor said.
Official figures corroborate the claim of absentee doctors in rural hospitals. Specialist gynaecologists who are escaping rural postings include Dr Nihida Akhter, MD Gynaecology, posted as Registrar in GMC Srinagar; Dr Afshana Ali (MD Gyn) un-authorised absent; Dr Farhanaz Mehraj (MD Gynae) un-authorised absent; Dr Anam Ul Haq (MD Gyn) Registrar GMC Srinagar; Dr Masarat Rashid (MD Gynae) JLNM Hospital; Dr Lubna Rashid (MD Gyn) un-authorised absent; Dr Shabnam Ara (MD Gynae) Senior Resident SKIMS Soura; Nadiya Youssef (MD Gynae) Senior Resident SKIMS Srinagar; Dr Roohi Jan (MD Gynae) Registrar GMC Srinagar; Dr Shazia Nisar (MD Gyn) Senior Resident SKIMS; Dr Sameena Ashraf (MD Gyne) MMC Sanat Nagar; Dr Muzamil Shafi (DNB Gynae) Registrar JVC Srinagar; Dr Nousheen Mir (MD Gynae) MMC Noorbagh RBA.
Director of Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem ur Rehman, admitted to the shortage of specialists in rural hospitals.
“Earlier we were able to manage the patient load, but now there is a huge rush in rural hospitals as people prefer institutional deliveries to home deliveries. We are trying to recruit more staff to cater to the increasing rush,” he said.