CURFEW CHOKES KASHMIR; PATIENTS PUT AT RISK

Movement Of Doctors, Paramedics Restricted; Hospitals Almost Defunct

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, July 20: Chanapora area in uptown Srinagar is peaceful since 2010 agitation. This morning when some shopkeepers opened their shops, including medical stores, to sell merchandize to the waiting locals despite the separatists’ shutdown call, policemen came in vehicles and asked them to close the shops. While leaving, the cops took away two basketfuls of vegetables from a vendor.
“Despite the situation being normal here, the cops are victimizing people for the separatists’ shutdown call,” remarked a shopkeeper.
Reminiscent of the curfew days of 2010, the situation in Kashmir is again grim with law enforcement agencies out to enforce strict restrictions on the movement people, oblivious of the sufferings of common man.
Patients surviving on life-saving drugs are at a higher risk and in a fix wherefrom to arrange medicines like Insulin and anti-hypertension drugs - a dose of which is must for their survival every day.
With all medical shops closed due to stringent curfew in place, hospitals are the last hope. But as the limited number of ambulances are already overburdened, critical patients have nowhere to go.
Adil Rafiq of old Srinagar has been calling all his friends since Saturday morning to find ways of arranging Insulin for his diabetic mother, but to no avail. “I used all my options. Had we known that situation would take an ugly turn, we would have purchased the drug for at least a couple of weeks,” he said. His mother takes two Insulin injections a day.
“I have diabetes checking device at home and my mother’s count was 396, which is high. We have no drug at home for her as shops are closed and we are not being allowed to venture out,” said Rafiq, who lives in Saraf Kadal area of old city. The area witnesses strict curfew owing to the fact that it is prone to violent clashes between youth and forces.
Rafiq’s mother is not the lone case as there are thousands of such patients across Kashmir. Shafiqa, who lives in Pulwama town, is suffering from a disorder for past three years. She is surviving on anti-hypertension drug.
“My wife developed serious complications since Friday evening. She complained of severe headache and fell unconscious a couple of times. Due to strict restrictions, we have not been able to reach district hospital for her treatment,” said Gul Muhammad Khan, Shafiqa’s husband.
He said in his neighborhood, Mala Begum had a close shave with death as her sugar level had crossed 360 mark and her blood-pressure had gone down. “It was a local pharmacist who gave her some medicine after which she recovered a bit,” he said. “We have kept ambulances at the disposal of people. Our primary concern is to ferry patients with high risk including those who receive bullet injuries,” said a senior health official, wishing not to be named. He, however, admitted that the number of ambulances was far less to cater to situation like they are witnessing at present.
Officials said that different hospitals in Srinagar city have only 30 ambulances, majority of which are in dilapidated condition.
Minister of State for Health, Shabir Ahmed Khan, said it is for the Minister for Medical Education Taj Mohiudin to look into the issue of shortage of ambulances.
“It doesn’t come under my purview,” he said, despite the fact that Directorate of Health Services under his control is supposed to operate ambulances.
A senior doctor on duty at SMHS Hospital said they are finding it too difficult to reach hospitals due to tough restrictions. “The number of Out Door Patients (OPD) has tremendously gone down as people are not able to reach hospital for treatment. It is true that those who are surviving on life-saving drugs are facing tough situation,” he said.
In SMHS, major surgeries have already been kept on hold as theatre staff hasn’t been able to reach hospital.
“The situation is really grim across Kashmir,” said Doctors Association Kashmir President, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan. “Missing out a single dose of drug means death to those who are surviving on life-saving drugs. A patient has to be given the drug immediately from the moment he or she develops complication, otherwise it means death.”

Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST




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