Reality Check: Srinagar hospitals lack sanitation facilities

Contrary to the claims of having closed drains and clean toilets, the hospitals in Srinagar and other frontier districts continue to have open drainage, producing a foul smell all the time.
File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS. [Image for representational purpose only]
File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS. [Image for representational purpose only] Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: Poor drainage and filthy toilets are the first sight for patients and attendants at most hospitals across Kashmir particularly Srinagar, even as the poor drainage system around the health facilities is only compounding the issues of hygiene.

Besides, the rats enjoy a field day inside many wards of the hospitals, leaving the patients and attendants at the receiving end.

Contrary to the claims of having closed drains and clean toilets, the hospitals in Srinagar and other frontier districts continue to have open drainage, producing a foul smell all the time.

Also, given their poor hygienic conditions, one does not wish to use the toilet blocks and the washrooms of the majority of the hospitals.

“Clean toilets and washrooms are the only expectation which one keeps while entering the hospitals because hygiene is the most important thing that needs to be taken care of in the hospitals. However, none of the hospitals has clean and properly maintained toilet blocks and washrooms,” said Arshid Ahmad, an attendant at G B Pant Hospital Srinagar.

This is not the only hospital where the attendants and the patients face tough times but the condition of toilet blocks at other hospitals is no different than this health institute.

“You go to any washroom or take a round of the drainage system around the hospital, it is all filthy. One can fall unconscious due to the foul smell coming out of the hospitals and the open drains,” said an attendant at LD Hospital, Srinagar.

Complaints pour in from patients and attendants against the open drains and filthy washrooms and toilet blocks at other hospitals as well.

The attendants said that the cockroaches and rats were found in every corner and, at times, rats roam beneath the beds, creating panic and chaos among the patients admitted to the wards.

The drainage system of the hospitals has become stinky and produces a foul smell all the time, giving a tough time to the patients.

“Under such conditions, instead of healing from ailments, the patients can fall prey to different diseases because of the poor hygiene at the hospitals,” one of the attendants said.

The complaints about poor hygiene and open drains are being received at a time when the government has issued new guidelines to all hospitals to have closed drains besides maintaining proper cleanliness of washrooms and toilet blocks in the hospitals.

But given the present condition at hospitals, the implementation of the guidelines seems to be a distant dream.

Earlier, the government notified various steps for the upkeep of the hospitals besides improving the toilet facilities in these healthcare institutions across J&K.

The government issued instructions that no foul smell should be in the toilets and all the toilets should be checked randomly in indoor and outdoor areas for the foul smell.

The government directed the hospital authorities to ensure that toilets have running functional cistern water and the cleaning and water staff should be advised to operate cistern taps beside sinks and the cistern be cleaned regularly.

The heads of the institutions have been instructed to ensure that the hospitals have availability of closed drainage besides keeping a check if there is any open drain on the hospital premises.

“The basic problem is that the drainage system was constructed some 20 years ago and kept uncovered. What can a medical superintendent or any head of the hospital do about it,” said a senior doctor at G B Pant Hospital.

Referring to the recent guidelines for closed drains in the hospitals, the doctor said that the repairs were not to be done by the hospital authorities but they had to only inspect the institution and submit a detailed report to the government.

“The report will go through a long process. The government has to sanction funds for the repairs at the hospitals. Estimates will be prepared by the concerned executing agency followed by the issuance of tenders and participation of contractors in tenders,” the doctor said.

“The work will be started after the tenders are opened by the concerned agency. It will take its own time and hospital authorities can’t do anything about it.”

Medical Superintendent G B Pant Hospital Dr Nazir Ahmad Choudhary told Greater Kashmir that the hospitals had open drains and complaints about unhygienic washrooms and toilets were received as well.

“But it is good that an initiative has been taken by the government wherein all the drains within the hospitals will be closed and other issues addressed as well,” he said.

Dr Choudhary said that the hospital authorities press the sanitation staff daily to clean the toilets and washrooms besides cleaning drains as well.

Deputy Medical Superintendent SMHS Hospital Dr Muzaffar Jan, who is looking after the Medical Superintendent of the hospital, said the hospital had a closed drainage system while the toilet blocks and washrooms were cleaned daily.

“The government recently conducted an inspection of the hospital and open drains were not found within the hospital premises,” he said.

However, Dar Jan acknowledged the presence of rats inside the wards and said he had received such complaints from the employees too.

“We fail to control the movement of rats in small hospitals and SMHS is a big institute and we can face such issues here. However, regular treatment is done to get rid of rats inside the hospital,” he said.

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