Doctors at lone maternity and childcare hospital (MCH) in this southern district mostly refer patients to Srinagar hospitals due to acute shortage of space. At least 185 maternity patients from here are—on an average—referred to Lal Ded Maternity Hospital in Srinagar every month due to paucity of beds, according to official sources.
“In 2016, at least 2,213 maternity patients were shifted to LD Hospital mainly because there were no beds available to perform caesarians,” sources told Kashmir Post.
The “unnecessary” referrals lead to overburdening of Srinagar hospitals.
“Had the MCH been spacious enough and well-equipped, there would have been no need to refer patients from South Kashmir to Srinagar’s hospitals including LD or GB Pant or JLNM, except in cases of extreme complications,” a doctor at MCH said.
Inaugurated in 2002 by then PDP-Congress coalition government, the 40-bedded hospital caters to patients from entire south Kashmir as well as Chenab Valley and Pirpanchal region.
“With more than 15,000 patients seen in its OPD and around 5,000 in the IPD every month, the hospital always remains overcrowded, with even two to three patients sharing a single bed in the wards,” the doctor, who requested not to be named, said.
“Our patient was shifted to a ward three days back after caesarean, but we were told to adjust another patient on the same bed yesterday as no other bed was available for her,” said attendant of a patient from Dachnipora belt of Bijbehara.
He said the congestion is creating tremendous problems for the patients as well as the newborns.
This correspondent saw many patients admitted in the hospital’s corridors.
Sources said the decision to shift the MCH, located in congested Sherbagh area of Anantnag town, was taken in 2014 as soon as the District Hospital at Janglat Mandi was shifted from old building to a newly-constructed one. The orders to this effect were issued by Directorate of Health Services Kashmir to Chief Medical Officer Anantnag in April 2014. But, the sources said, the orders are yet to be implemented.
Further, they said, the MCH building has already been declared as ‘unsafe’ by Fire and Emergency and Roads and Buildings departments, but the authorities are still unmoved. The operation theatre of MCH was also gutted in January 2016, making the structure further unsafe.
Sources said though the hospital authorities in January 2015 initiated relocation of its Maternity Section, they were forced to shift it back allegedly after stiff opposition from some politicians at the behest of their workers. Sources said some of these political workers own shops outside the hospital premises and fear that their business will be affected once it is completely shifted.
Last year, during a District Development Board meeting, J&K’s Minister of Finance Dr Haseeb Drabu, who was in chair, announced that the state government will construct a super-specialty maternity hospital in Anantnag. “The hospital will be funded under Prime Minister’s TAIMER program under which Rs 1,500 crore have been earmarked for strengthening healthcare sector in Jammu and Kashmir,” Drabu had said and asked the district administration to prepare a plan for the same. However, official sources said, the process has not been initiated at all. Also, the State Cabinet in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on February 13 this year accorded sanction to taking over of Rehmat-e-Alam Trust Hospital Anantnag by the Health & Medical Education Department along with all its assets and liabilities.
Official sources said the government is now mulling to shift the MCH to Rehmat-e-Alam hospital, constructed by the Rehamt-i-Alam Trust.
With hospital lacking adequate space, locals here demand its immediate shifting.
“The hospital lacks proper sanitation and its wards always stink as a result of which there is likelihood of spread of infectious diseases,” said a group of attendants.
They said Sherbagh, where the MCH is located, is a hugely congested area with narrow roads where frequent traffic jams are witnessed, making it difficult for patients to reach there in time.
Locals accuse leaders of political parties of playing politics over the issue of shifting of MCH.
“The politicians are playing vote-bank politics over lives of people. This is a humanitarian issue and the hospital should be shifted without any further delay,” said Rao Farman Ali, social activist and spokesperson of ‘South Kashmir Civil Society’.
He said with MCH building declared unsafe,
“one fails to understand how authorities could be so insensitive towards lives of people.”
Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman acknowledged the problem and said the “process of relocation of MCH is on.”