Poor patient care

Greater Kashmir

In PDP led coalition government Choudery Lal Singh’s miniature – but stormy – tenure as health minister turned out to be the only silver lining in the murkier clouds of morbid health services in the state. The pages of local history would stand sagacious soothsayers to this scintillating reign in times to come that sent shudders through the spine of whole indolent lot serving health services, irrespective of state and status.
Singh’s hectic efforts aimed at galvanising health care system in the state saw medicos masquerading as messiahs first time at the places of their postings in remotest and forlorn areas, while as para-medicos pepped up their previous paddle wheel with respect to their guanine duties.
These people friendly gestures won many plaudits for Lal Sing. He got elected to parliament in a very little period of time and paved way for Mrs Suman Bagath who occupied the chair left vacant by Singh. Despite trying very hard to toe the line of her predecessor, Bagath failed utterly to engrave something substantial along this chapter. Hence the legacy that Lal Singh had garnered laboriously was left to gather dust in the lumber house of sweet memories. Since then, whole state in general, and Kashmir valley in particular, again witnessed unspeakable stink in health care scenario. Health care in J&K state has always been quiet reproachable despite having near about a dozen of prestigious 300-500 bed hospitals; this is all what 80 lakh people of the state have to rely on with respect to health care.
In Kashmir valley, the apex body that goads up health care service has been acting too grotesquely. Bragging bellyful about a few secondary care hospitals situated in and around Srinagar city, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir has hog tied its responsibilities unmindfully and never try to delve deep into the sorry state of affairs prevailing in rural area of the valley. No doubt, the rural belt of valley has seven district hospitals, 20 sub-district hospitals, 70-80 primary health centers, vast network of dispensaries and other medical aid centers strewn all across. Yet, patients form nook and corner of the valley are seen flocking to Srinagar city for getting proper treatment. As per a report, the number of patients who visit Srinagar based hospitals from rural belt is seventeen times more then those who belong to Srinagar city.
Of all the patients that get admitted in Srinagar based hospitals, 80% belong to rural belt and death ratio between rural patients and urban patients is more astounding, it is 25:1. All these calculations strongly force every sane soul to contemplate, why has health service gone that much dangerously wrong in rural belt? The reasons are hundred and one.
On one hand, hundreds of medical education drop outs from outside and within state keep piling degree after degree but get emaciated for want of a government job while as on the other, those who already have made it to government jobs feel upbraided and penalized in case posted in some rural area. Yet half a dozen district hospitals and a score plus sub-district hospitals play pivotal role in providing basic health care facility ranging from dressings and stitching to ultrasonography scanning, to the patients, but what macerates this straw patients would have caught on to, is the lack of proper management coupled with non availability of specialist doctors in the said health care centers.
In most of these ill equipped hospitals doctors are posted randomly and no special criterion is groped for. Some time there could be a ‘specialist’ surgeon, who is too crafty to carry out major surgeries like Cholisystectomy, Appendisecty or even sensitive surgeries related to kidneys or prostrate, but non availability of an Anesthetist makes him to eat a humble pie. Similarly a neuro-physcians, cardiologist, diabatalogists could be posted in these health care centers, but they either have to treat common cold, aches and pains or have to resort to yawning out of boredom. Availability of basic equipments, in these hospitals could have curtailed the rush of such type of patients with moderate type of this sort of maladies, to the territory care centers at Srinagar city.
Tale of allopathic dispensers under the aegis of directorate of health services Kashmir is eclipsed enough, across hill and dale of the valley. The network of these basic medical care units is much more in number than the patients who collectively visit these centers now and then. The reason is once again lack of basic infrastructure. A rag-tag chair, a clumsy table, a rusted almira and few bottles of intravenous fluids, is all that constitutes a dispensary. A single or two para medical staff members play bosses, patients are left at their mercy.
While as most of the “Massiahs” posted at these basic medical care centers either make a surprise visit once in a blue moon to these centers or unashamedly ask the patients who trek down to some sub-district hospital for so called specialized treatment, about the latest happenings in and around their place of posting. This grim scenario, come crushing on the desperate lot all around rural belt forcing them go hands down to secondary or tertiary care units in Srinagar city. It is why, we see parents pushing, pulling and punching one another in a hurry, in the OPD’s of different Srinagar based Hospitals.
The pell-mell that is created by this torrential flow of patients into these hospitals turn the whole patient care topsy-turvy, a specialist who, literally is supposed to see 20-30 patients in OPD has to gambol with 200-300 precarious souls. Such a situation makes the particular specialists to go for cursory looks and symptomatic treatments, misdiagnosis, mal-treatment, delay in treatment, becomes the hall mark in long run, hence paving way for the patient to die by inches.
Need of the hour, for state government is to delve deep into the problem so that already mauled community is saved from further marauding.