Unhealthy healthcare

Greater Kashmir

 ‘It is in a shambles’. This one liner depicting pathetic, hapless and miserable state of affairs of the State Health Department might have appeared in this space and other columns scores of times in the recent past but so far it has neither attracted the attention of sleuths of our vigilance organizations nor the top brass in the coalition government. The recent incident in the government hospital at Ranawari, Srinagar was not an isolated one when medicos on duty earned the wrath of public not strictly for their negligence but for incompetent and inefficient organization they work for. The incidents like one at one of the oldest hospitals of Kashmir founded by Christian missionaries are galore in both rural and urban hospitals that remain ill and under equipped and badly managed. Majority of hospitals in the state lack basic facilities – many hospitals have no ambulances and even if there are some they are very old and in a bad shape, the wards of majority of hospitals in cities and at district headquarters are not only unclean but the worst breeding grounds for microbes.  If an in-depth study is done about condition of hospital wards it would be revealed that many new antibiotic resistant diseases that have been afflicting people and endangering their lives have spawned in these wards. The operation theatres of majority of hospital are not only ill-equipped but unhygienic, the condition of post-operative wards in most of our hospitals are worse than the common wards. The incidence of infections in these wards is far higher than even in other wards. There is hardly a patient who after surgery does not attract a serious infection in these wards. It is an established fact that Kashmir is the greatest haven for spurious drugs and greatest dispenser of fake drugs are the state hospitals. The purchase of drugs has been questioned in the past also and many times it was even established that the drugs purchased for government hospitals were not only fake but hazardous to health also. But for the impunity and political patronage for some top officers in the health department these cases were shelved. The stories about purchase of sub-standard equipment for hospitals make no breaking news but routine news that despite having factual details are never investigated and even if investigated under public pressure are generally shelved after they fade from the public memory. There have been stories about the huge kick backs out of purchase of sub-standard equipment and spurious medicine being shared by both officers and political bosses at the top. It may be one of the reasons for the impunity of these officers against administrative actions but what needs to be understood that health department is directly connected with health of common people. The health of common people cannot be imperiled at the altar of patronizing some known corrupt and incompetent officers in the Health Department organizations like the State Accountability Commission or even the State High Court need to take suo motto cognizance of the deplorable state conditions in hospitals, primary health services and dispensaries of the state for ensuring basic health facilities to the people of the state. Of course, doctors have a great responsibility to shoulder, but without support and cooperation from administration, the contribution of a doctor will be incomplete. Let’s make the whole process cohesive so that the system changes, and individuals follow. The growing cases of negligence are a constant worry, but they are to be taken case to case without laying a blanket blame on one group of professionals. Let all share their responsibilities and let only guilty be punished.