‘Have been able to save lives of hundreds of Yatris’
SRINAGAR: Director General Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Saleem-Ur-Rehman on Saturday said the department is providing state-of-art facilities and services to Amarnath Yatra pilgrims which are “far better than any place in the country”.
The Director Health expressed these views while talking to the media persons during a press briefing over the healthcare management during the ongoing Amarnath Yatra at the division of Epidemiology & Public Health, Barzulla Srinagar.
The Department of Health is entrusted with provisioning of health facilities during all pilgrimages and public events and this mandate includes doing the same for the Amarnath Yatra which takes place from the two routes from North (Sonamarg) and South (Pahalgam).
According to the Director, among various other organisations, institutes and departments, the health department has an important role to play during the Yatra period – of providing medical facilities suited for adverse high altitude conditions.
Dr Saleem-Ur-Rehman said the health department has been striving and making all out efforts to keep Yatris in good health en-route and to provide them all necessary medical attention.
“We have state-of-art facilities available at the altitude of almost 12,000 feet and have established medical camps equipped with modern infrastructure and high tech equipment all along the routes,” he said. “We have base hospitals at five places along the Yatra routes with facilities like Intensive Care Units, ABG Analyzers and all the highest level of equipment which is available at the other big hospitals.”
The Director said they have three-tier healthcare system in place to deliver smooth healthcare facilities. Specialised facilities were set up at strategic locations at Baltal, Chandanwari, Holy Cave, Sheshnag and Panjtarni. “These designated hospitals have the facilities for consultations in medicine, surgery, orthopaedics, cardiology and critical care backed up with all required equipment, diagnostics, nursing and referral facilities,” he said.
The second tier of Medical Aid Centres, according to the Director, was created which are manned by trained medical officers and has basic diagnostics and treatment facilities including for the treatment of emergencies. They were set up at 10 locations along both routes focusing on the areas where incidences of morbidity were high, he said.
The third tier of Emergency Aid Centres, Dr Saleem said, were created providing health facility at every 2 kilometres distance along the routes leading to the holy cave which include defibrillators, cardiac monitors, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, pulse oxymeters, automated CPR machines, transport ventilators and portable oxygen concentrators.
Dr Saleem-Ur-Rehman said the doctors and paramedics are vigorously trained in Pahalgam and Baltal before sending them to their posts.
“This has helped in decreasing mortality and morbidity drastically. Our staff is fully trained to handle medical emergencies. We are using HYPO bags (hyperbaric chambers) to transfer critically sick to descending camps and have saved hundreds of lives up there,” he said. “We have saved hundreds of lives up there. Only two deaths have occurred this year at our facilities which is very low compared to the causalities of last year.”
However, the Director advocated the adoption of minimum fitness protocols for intending Yatris who he said should get Compulsory Health Certificate (CHC) which was made mandatory for registration of any intending pilgrim. He said that people above 50-55 years of age should be fully prepared before embarking the journey and that the cardiac compromised patients should not embark the journey.
The Director thanked the Government of India for providing the additional requirement of doctors and paramedics which were requested by the department.
“The department has full support of the state government and the Amarnath Shrine Board,” Dr Saleem-Ur-Rehman said.