Kashmir's health sector crisis

Kashmir's health sector crisis

The people need healthcare and the available services in the public hospitals are highly deficient.

The healthcare sector in Jammu & Kashmir, particularly in the governance dysfunction-ridden Kashmir region is in dire straits.

The latest news, reported by this newspaper, of a parent who has already lost his four children to hemophilia is on the verge of losing another if his son is not given the necessary drug within 48 hours at the region’s premier tertiary care hospital – SKIMS – is quite disturbing.

It is unacceptable that medicine for this child is unavailable and hence he faces the prospect of dying. Although there are court orders that anti-hemophilic drugs must be available 24 hours in the hospitals, there is a strong moral imperative for the government to make sure that such medicines are available where these are required to be.

Beyond this specific case, there are innumerable instances where patients in Kashmir’s hospitals die or suffer excessively due to unavailability of the drugs which are supposed to be available in the government hospitals.

This situation goes to reflect the dire crisis that Kashmir’s health sector is facing, and, importantly, the need to have an action plan to improve things without losing any further time.

What has dented the health care sector in the Kashmir region more badly are the 2014 floods which hit almost all of the specialty hospitals in Srinagar. It is incredible that there is still no plan in sight about how does the government of India intend to help bring the affected hospitals back on the rails. Obviously, that would require significant financial resources.

The fact of the matter is that the people need healthcare and that the available services in the public hospitals are highly deficient. Management is abysmal.

Equipment is mostly non-functional. It is interesting that the same conditions generally do not exist in the two other regions of the state viz Jammu and Ladakh.

It is true that the armed conflict of the last 25 years disproportionately impacted the Kashmir region, along with its public institutions.

However, the present conditions do not justify the sustained dysfunction. Something needs to be done about it, and very soon.