‘Doctor Crunch hits healthcare services’

Srinagar—Healthcare ser­vices in the rural hospitals are in bad shape, especially with the Primary Health Centers (PHCs) grappling with short­age of doctors.

One of the officials in the health department told KNS that the situation in rural health centres has reached a bleeding point. “Go to any hospital in rural Kashmir, there is a beeline of people. The demand and provision of services has increased over the years, but due to short­age of doctors, the quality of services is bound to suffer,” said the official.

Sources told KNS that the prevailing scenario vis-à-vis availability of doctors can be gauged from the figures which reveal that the doctor-patient ratio in Jammu Kashmir is 1:1880 against the recommen­dations of the World Health Organization (WHO) of 1:1000. “Nothing has changed consid­erably on the ground from the shortage of doctors. Most of the district hospitals have be­come referral hospitals, while the Government Medical Col­lege Hospitals have been flood­ed with patients from other districts and the hospital ad­ministration is facing extreme hardships in providing better healthcare facilities to all the patients”, sources said.

Sources said that the situ­ation is worst in the hospitals at some district headquarters and in remote areas where vacancies of doctors are rang­ing between 50%. “Every time when the issue of shortage of manpower is raised at any forum the ball is put in the court of recruiting agencies- Public Services Commission and Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board, but no serious efforts were ever made to exert pressure on these recruiting agencies to expedite the recruitment pro­cess so that real objective and vision of the Health and Medi­cal Education Department is achieved”, sources remarked.

On the other hand sources said that despite several ben­efits, doctors don’t want to go to the rural areas because of various reasons. “They don’t get good facilities for their families such as education and ease of living as they get in urban cities,” said a senior health ministry official.

“We are trying our level best to move doctors to rural areas because these areas too require good healthcare services.” Ac­cording to official data, in 2015- 16, 1.2 crore out patients were examined in hospitals of rural Kashmir. The number is twice the OPD load in rural Kashmir in 2010-11. However, there has been no substantial allocation of additional human resources to cater to this load, the official said.

One of the doctors said that the subsequent governments have failed to fix the ailing health sector – the brunt of which is being primarily faced by the people in rural areas. “From news reports, you will come to know about fights between medicos and attendants over petty issues in the rural hospitals every third day which is an indica­tion of the fact that doctors are not able to provide de­sired care to all the patients, but who cares?” said the doc­tor wishing anonymity.

The doctors said that the theory and practice in rural hos­pitals of Kashmir is this: if the doctor is female, then the place for her is the maternity ward.

“Hundreds of female doc­tors, whatever be their quali­fication and specialty, are be­ing made to handle cases that properly need a gynecologist or obstetrician to attend to,” they maintained.

The Director health ser­vices Kashmir Dr salemu- Rehman told KNS that the requirement for additional human resource had been pro­posed to government and that they were hopeful that more posts of doctors would be sanc­tioned. “We have support from other schemes and programs but if we want to continue de­livery of healthcare and ser­vices we would definitely need more doctors,” he said. (KNS)




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