The patient care at the Public Health Centre (PHC) in Chuntimullah village of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, which caters to around 10,000 people, is suffering due to lack of doctors and paramedical staff.
Besides Chuntimullah hamlet, 11 km from district headquarters, surrounding villages of Sumlar, Arin, Surinder and Sumlar Gujjar Patti that depend on this PHC have been left in dire straits, mostly after COVID19, forcing the inhabitants to commute several kilometers to seek medical aid.
“It has been almost eight months and we haven’t seen a doctor at the PHC,” Tanveer Ahmad Lone, 24, a local said. “After COVID19, doctors disappeared from this hospital.”
Recently, 50-year-old Habla got injured after getting electrocuted when a high tension wire fell in her orchard.
“My family took me to Bandipora as the nearby PHC was closed,” she said.
Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, 29, a labourer said, “My wife Shaheena complained of severe heartache in the middle of the night. We rushed her to the PHC but it was locked. Had my wife died, the administration would have been guilty as they fail to provide doctors at the PHC.”
Ghulam Nabi, 60, of the nearby Zaban area said, “Apart from a few orderlies, no one remains present at the hospital.”
Village’s Secretary Auqaf, Muhammad Sultan Lone, 80, said, “Despite having all the machinery like X-ray, USG and laboratory for conducting tests, the facility is useless in absence of doctors and paramedical staff.”
He said people have to take pregnant women on stretchers or cots in case of emergencies, walking several kilometers.
They alleged that COVID19 had given the doctors and staff an excuse to skip their duties.
Forced to take extreme majors, Lone said they indulge in self-medication purchasing drugs from a local pharmacist.
Locals said that there were over 25 employees posted at the hospital but no one was showing up.
They said that they had many a time apprised officials including the Deputy Commissioner about the issue and alleged that no one had taken took their pleas seriously.
Block Medical Officer (BMO) Bandipora, Dr Masarat Iqbal said: “Three medical officers are working there. One doctor was attached for COVID19 duty but has reported back at the facility now. Twelve paramedics had been attached for COVID19 duties but four have joined back. Two pharmacists and three nursing orderlies are also posted there. A doctor, who is a ZMO, was transferred. His replacement did not join duties despite repeated notices. Another medical officer has been attached for COVID19 duty at the CMO’s office.”