As incidents of stray dogs biting residents have been increasing, government-run hospitals in southern Kashmir have run out of anti-rabies vaccine three months ago.
According to officials at the district hospital in Anantnag, one of the largest in Kashmir valley, at least 75 patients with dog bites turn up every month for treatment.
However, since three months there is no ARV available at the hospital forcing the victims of dog bites to either purchase expensive from open market or rush to Srinagar hospitals 50 kilometers away.
“These vaccines are not even easily available in the market. This is an alarming situation and health authorities are least concerned,” an official said, adding poor patients faced difficulties traveling to Srinagar five times in 28 days for the required dosage.
“A few days earlier a patient from a remote village of Kokernag who was badly bitten turned up at the hospital. He was very poor and pleaded to be vaccinated, but had to return disappointed,” another official at the Anantnag hospital said.
He said that the situation in other district hospitals in Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian was no different.
A health official said that even in SMHS Srinagar vaccines was available are only for patients who suffered “severe dog-bites in the head.”
“Most of the dog bites were left untreated,” he said, adding the shortage of ARV risked many lives.
The official said that the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) responsible maintaining stock stopped procuring and supplying vaccines to the hospitals since manufacturers tacked up rates.
Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Kunzes Dolma admitted ARV shortage in hospitals, saying the vaccines were not being supplied to valley hospitals now.
“The entire country was confronting the same problem and this was at manufactures level only,” said Dolma, adding that the department was trying to make the vaccines available.