SRINAGAR: The Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) in district hospitals have been left near defunct in the wake of strike of National Health Mission (NHM) employees.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that Health department has decided to stop admitting neonates to the SNCUs in district hospitals as they faced lot of trouble in running the specialised services in absence of NHM employees.
“Most of the staff manning SNCUs works under National Health Mission. So, it is nearly impossible for us to run them,” sources said.
The state government has so far failed to negotiate with the striking NHM employees, who were appointed to run various schemes especially child healthcare in J&K.
According to officials, Health institutions were already facing issues because of staff crunch and the strike of NHM employees has affected the healthcare delivery services badly.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Baramulla, Dr Bashir Ahmad Chalkoo admitted the hospital functioning had suffered since the strike started.
“Lone pediatrician now handles the sick neonates in the hospital along with few nurses who are already overburdened,” he said, adding that the striking employees were the backbone of the district hospitals.
“May the good senses prevail and they join back their duties. We can’t go like this for long as the existing staff is working a double shift for last 15 days,” he said.
In south Kashmir, the situation is even worse as major facilities are usually run by doctors and nurses recruited under NHM.
In District Hospital Pulwama, eight staff members, who are presently on strike, including doctors and nurses were posted in the childcare units.
Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr Rashid Para said he was facing huge difficulties to manage the functioning of the hospital as the staff was already short.
“We have canceled night off of many doctors and paramedics which is injustice with them. The regular staff including lady doctors has been working for 24 hours at a stretch to manage the essential services in the hospital,” he said.
Dr Para also admitted that they had stopped admission of sick neonates in the hospital.
“We refer them to GB Pant hospital because our staff is not enough to run the emergencies affairs,” he said.
The Health Department has established SNCUs in 16 district hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir under National Health Mission (NHM) which were aimed at bringing down the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR).
SNCU scheme was introduced to cut referral of sick newborn babies to tertiary care units and facilitate prompt treatment.
This would also have reduced the load on GB Pant Hospital, Srinagar and SMGS hospital, Jammu where the patient load is very high. One of the main objectives of NHM was to bring down IMR, currently at 26 in J&K.
Sources said around 10 staff nurses for each district hospital had been appointed out of which six are exclusively meant for SNCUs.
“The present situation has become as a grave concern in various district hospitals as most of the hospitals are already deficient in staff,” they said.
The strike has affected the prestigious cash incentive schemes like Janani Shishu Suraksha Karikaram and Janani Suraksha Yojana as ministerial staff appointed under NHM was also on strike.
“The employees who are managing the funds of hospitals and patients are also on strike. The patients were being asked to wait for the cash incentives,” said an administrator.