Srinagar: Pediatric healthcare in the rural areas of Kashmir is painting a grim picture, with only 12 pediatricians available to cater to the needs of patients in the entire North Kashmir. What is adding to the pathetic conditions is the non availability of neo-natal infrastructure in the entire area.
The situation in South Kashmir is no different, the number of pediatricians available in the major districts of South Kashmir is also around 15, with only 1 pediatricians at District Hospital Pulwama—the district with the population of 570,060 individuals.
The population of South Kashmir’s four districts, which includes: Anantnag, Shopain, Pulwama and Kulgam is 2328950—as per 2011 census—while as the population of North Kashmir’s three districts: Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora is 2276166, with an overall 23.7 per cent growth in population from 2001-2011, the number of specialists is still the same, and in some cases-even less.
Medicos working in South and North Kashmir say that there is massive non-availability of pediatricians in the peripheries.
“The pediatric healthcare in Kashmir is pathetic, with no man power available to cater to the needs of the huge population,” said Dr Mir Mushtaq, Executive member of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK).
Specialized neo-natal care seems to be a dream in rural areas, as per medicos, the females in North and South Kashmir, who have to undergo normal deliveries are not taken care of, but are referred to Srinagar.
“Forget about pediatric health in peripheries, the maternity care is even worse, females who are meant to deliver their babies normally are referred to Srinagar adding to the already burdened healthcare facilities in Srinagar,” he said.
Ironically, the Caesarean-Normal delivery ratio is quite high in the rural areas, because of dearth of specialized staff at the periphery health care.
“The ratio is high, even those who can deliver their babies normally are made to undergo caesarean procedures, and it is all because of non availability of specialists,” he added.
“Those who are attending them, in order to protect themselves from the occurrence of any complication, make the patients undergo caesareans,” Dr. Mir Mushtaq alleged.
Interestingly, the absence of required specialists in the peripheries is also increasing the referral rate, with the result, the neo-natal deaths are also on the rise.
“When there is no infrastructure and specialists available, the patients are referred to Srinagar, which is again burdening the central system, and is said to be the main reason behind neo-natal deaths,” Dr Mir said.
Impressing upon the clubbing of specialists, and referring it to be the only solution to the existing ills in the health care system, Dr Mir Mushtaq, who is also a member of Jammu and Kashmir Doctors Coordination Committee (JKDCC)—an amalgam of various medico associations—said “clubbing the specialists is the best option rather than keeping them scattered, while scattered, they are good for nothing.”
Citing an example of the orthopaedic department of District hospital Anantnag, he said that the specialists like neurosurgeons and orthopaedics were clubbed and are performing best at the hospital.
“They are even performing spine surgeries there—the cases which were earlier referred to Bone and Joints, Barzulla,” he said, adding “same can work in other fields, including pediatrics.”