As many as 1312 national health rural mission (NRHM) employees working in various hospitals in south Kashmir continued their strike on the second consecutive day on Tuesday demanding regularisation of their services.
Due to the two-day strike, according to sources, the patient care was badly hit at various hospitals in Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian districts.
Sources at various district and sub-district hospitals told Greater Kashmir that work was badly affected due to absence of the NRHM medical and para-medical staff. These health centers, as per sources, are largely dependent upon the NRHM staff.
The cash incentive schemes like Rashtriya Bal Suraksha Karikaram, Revised National Tuberculosis Programme, Janani Suraksha Yojana and Shishu Suraksha Karikaram were also affected.
Some of the locals from various districts on Tuesday said in absence of doctors they were forced to take their patients to private clinics.
They said that expecting mothers mostly faced the inconvenience due to dearth of doctors particularly specialist gynecologists.
"The expecting mothers from tribal areas usually develop complications due to absence of doctors particularly during night hours at rural PHCs," said Imtiyaz Ahmed from Litter Pulwama.
As per official figures, in district Anantnag 520, in Pulwama 282, in Shopian 190 and in Kulgam district 320 employees were on the strike.
The strike of these employees has also put burden on other regular employees of health department who are performing "extra duties".
A doctor at sub-district hospital Shopian said, "I am performing extra duty to cater to the medical needs of the patients as the hospital is facing shortage of staff."
He maintained that in the adjoining health centres of the district few dental surgeons and paramedical staff are performing the duties in the out-patient wards.
The officials said the majority of the doctors employed by the health department have been appointed under National Rural Health Mission scheme.
"NRHM staff is the backbone of rural healthcare. Due to their strike, the situation has become worse in medical aid centres. We can't shut the healthcare centres and we have to manage what we have," the official said.
On the other hand few NRHM employees talking to Greater Kashmir said they are demanding the regularisation of their services for many years.
"Over the years government has made hollow promises and yet we have not been regularized," said Javed Hussain, an employee.
However, authorities at some hospitals denied that there was any impact of the strike on the patient care. "There is no problem as such in Pulwama district. We have easily managed to cater to the patient care," an official said.