Injured By Forces' Action, Disabled By Government Apathy

Injured By Forces' Action, Disabled By Government Apathy

Hundreds of bullet, pellet victims unable to afford ortho implants

Many bullet and pellet injured Kashmiri youth listed for surgeries at government hospitals are missing their dates due to their inability to purchase costly implants required for supporting, replacing bones and joints.

The youth injured in forces action are facing disability as they cannot afford to purchase implants costing anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,50,000 required to set right their broken bones and joints.

In absence of any finance assistance from the state or insurance cover, definitive treatment has become a dream for these youth.

In the past three months, amidst protests and forces’ action, 190 people with injuries in bones were admitted at Bone and Joint Hospital, Valley’s only Orthopedic Specialty Hospital. A senior orthopaedic at SMHS Hospital said that although many of these injured will require implants, “most cannot afford the high costs and end up with physical disabilities.”

“A knee or hip replacement will cost a patient Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000. Some implants cost even more,” doctors at B&J Hospital said.

Although the ‘first-aid’ for bone injuries was provided free of cost at the hospital, the price of follow-up and corrective surgeries are to be borne by the patient only.

Sabir Ahmed Dar (22) from Kulgam who was hit by a bullet in his left leg just near pelvis, has been asked by the doctors to arrange Rs 100,000 for his surgery. “They said the hip needs to be replaced as it has been shattered by the bullet,” Sabir’s brother said. “We are taking him home because we have no source of income and will have to sell ancestral property to arrange money for the surgery,” he added.

Doctors at B&J Hospital said that many people like Sabir leave hospital to “arrange’ money and never turn up for the planned surgeries. “When they do, it is already late. Their limb has either shortened or there is a deformity leading to disability,” said an orthopaedic at the hospital.

Officials in the health department said the hospital authorities had pressed the government to provide funds for emergency orthopaedic procedures. “The funds were allotted but owing to the high number of injuries landing at the hospital, the funds exhausted in no time, after which the injured were asked to arrange money for their ortho-implants.

Although, in past, ortho-implants were being provided at the hospital free of cost, the practice stopped many years ago. Currently, the only financial aid for implants the needy can hope for is Chief Minister’s Fund.

Health authorities said that applications duly attested by the hospital authorities are forwarded and routed through revenue office to CM’s secretariat. “They usually get an amount ranging between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 40,000,” the hospital authorities said.

In the past three months, 370 people have been hit by bullets in forces’ action with about a 100 of them having grave limb injuries.