Defunct primary healthcare in Kashmir overburdens LD hospital

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Despite Government’s repeated claims that they will strengthen the rural healthcare, the Kashmir valley’s main maternity hospital, Lal Ded Memorial Hospital in Srinagar, receives 80 percent patients from the rural areas.
As the rural hospital in Kashmir lack the infrastructure and qualified man power, the LD hospital is functioning like a primary health care hospital. The Government instead of decentralizing the healthcare has centralized it in Srinagar where tertiary care hospitals are flooded with patients from rural areas.
The Medical Superintendent of the LD hospital, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather, told  that the hospital receives 700 patients in its Out Patients Department (OPD) and 120-130 patients are admitted daily. He says that 80 percent of these patients are from rural areas of Kashmir valley and majority of them come directly to the hospital while 20 percent are referred.
The president of the Doctors Association Kashmir, Dr Nisarul Hassan, told Excelsior that the healthcare infrastructure and manpower has been concentrated in Srinagar while 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas. “In our OPD we receive 99 percent patients from rural areas and it speaks volumes about our rural infrastructure”, he said, adding that peripheral healthcare is totally defunct and Government concentrates more on developing infrastructure in Srinagar.
The hospitals in rural areas and district headquarters in Kashmir lacked facilities leading to overburdening of the LD hospital. In many hospitals there are gynecologists but no pediatricians, no life support for mother and child, no blood banks and no qualified medical and para-medical staff.
Doctors say that tertiary care hospitals like the LD are performing the role of primary health care and even they take care of normal deliveries and minor surgeries when they are meant for advanced care and research.
Even the City hospitals like, Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) Hospital at Rainawari, which has better facilities is shifting its gynecological patients to the LD hospital to avoid surgeries during night.
A patient Muneera wife of Altaf Ahmad of Pattan area was admitted to the JLNM hospital under registration number 30895 to JLNM hospital on October 28. However, she was sent to the LD hospital on November 1 in the evening where she had normal delivery as soon as she reached there. “They asked me to go to the LD hospital and as I reached there, I delivered a baby normally. They didn’t want to keep me there for the night as doctors prefer to send patients to the LD hospital during night”, Muneera said.
Sources said that of late the doctors at JLNM hospital prefer to ask the patients to go to the LD hospital as they don’t want perform surgeries during the night. The hospital has six Gynecologists and 5 Medical officers but sources said that these doctors don’t want to work during the night.
Medical Superintendent of JLNM hospital, Dr Nazir Ahmad Malik, however, said that the hospital only refers critical care patients to the LD. He said Muneera was referred to the LD hospital as she had low hemoglobin.

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