BUDGAM: Despite the authorities’ claiming to have provided health care facilities at people’s doorsteps across the length and breadth of the valley, Khag in central Kashmir’s Budgam district has belied their tall claims as it is the only Tehsil headquarters in the state that still lacks a sub-district hospital (SDH).
Declared a tehsil headquarter decades ago, Khag lacks proper health facilities for a population of approximately 75,000 people.
The state government had upgraded the Primary Heath Centre Khag to type C hospital but did not provide the required facilities, the locals complained.
They pointed out that the type-C hospital should have specialised doctors and other staff with necessary facilities, but there is no such provision on the ground.
Waseem Ahmad, a resident of Khag, said that posts of doctors like medical specialist, child specialist, medical officers, gynaecologists, chest specialists etc had long been lying vacant. He pointed out that the hospital had a few high-priced machines but no technician to make them functional.
Presently, Khag has a redundant primary health center with only seven doctors (two MBBS side and five NRHM side).
The area is located in a snow-prone region and mostly remains disconnected from other areas during winters, creating immense hardship for its residents. Despite that, successive regimes have never bothered to materialise the needs and demands of this vast area.
“Keeping in consideration the infrastructure of the area, one fails to understand how seven doctors will meet the requirements of this huge populace,” Ishfaq Ahmad, a resident of Khag, said adding that the people of Khag and adjoining villages have been demanding a sub district hospital at Khag Tehsil headquarters from the past many years.
Ahmad added that there is nothing positive to mention here; instead the hospital has turned out to be a nightmare for the common residents, he said.
“The sorry state of affairs is that for minor ailments and minor injuries, people have to move to the tertiary-care hospital in Srinagar for treatment, which is creating a lot of inconvenience for the people of the area both in terms of money and time,” he added.
Dr Akther Hussain Malik, another Khag resident, blamed the politicians concerned for their apathetic and callous approach. He added, “The people of this deprived area cast their votes to get the basic necessities approved, but the politicians after fetching votes cheated them in broad daylight and failed to meet their demands”.
Malik added that during the 2104 Assembly elections, the people favoured former chief minister Omar Abdullah, “but the fact is that he (Omar) literally did nothing for common masses”.
Malik further said that the authorities seem to be ignoring Khag. So what is the fun, he asked, in having the National Rural Health Mission Scheme (NRHM), which states that medicare facilities will be provided to people at their doorsteps. “But for us this slogan also proved to be hallow.”
During summer, people manage, Malik said, “but during winters, the people are facing more problems because most of the villages remain cut off from the Tehsil headquarter for at least three months.”
Another prominent citizen of the area, Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan, said, “We raised this issue many times in the past, but nothing has been done so far. It seems that our pleas are falling on deaf ears.”.
“We are suffering a lot. The Primary Health Center is lacking all the basic facilities and it is compelling us to move to hospitals of Srinagar,” Khan said.
The sorry state of affairs could be guaged from the fact that a minor girl, Ulfat Jan of Kokerbagh village, died recently after complaining of a minor knee ailment. “Had there been an SDH in place, she could have survived,” Khan added.
This is just a single example; the people of adjacent villages face the same fate. The residents said shifting patients to Srinagar hospitals is not easy for them as most of the population of the area is poor and can’t afford travel.
“Khag is a hilly area, and most of the people live below the poverty line and can’t afford travel and private check ups,” they said.
Meanwhile, BMO Khag Dr Idrees said while talking to Kashmir Reader that he has moved a proposal for upgration of PHC Khag to the level of Community Health Centre (CHC). But that is still pending in the administrative section.
He added, “I have also sent a letter to the concerned officials to demand for the required staff, but there has been no response from them as of now.”
However, CMO Budgam Dr Nazir Ahmad Bhat said, “There are no chances of its upgradtaion, however if people wish they can make it possible by repeatedly making their presentation before the authorities concerned.”