NEW DELHI: The beautiful valley of Gurez, often least explored in Kashmir, has a population of 37,992. The valley, located in the Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir, has inadequate manpower in the healthcare sector. Despite several complaints and demands by locals, things haven’t changed over the years. The Sunday Guardian spoke to some of the locals and activists who have been working tirelessly to help out residents of the valley. Due to the unavailability of manpower in the healthcare sector, the population in the valley is dwindling and thus, many people have migrated to the other districts or Srinagar. “Due to a lack of manpower, many people have left the valley. The problems increase during winter as transportation facilities get stuck. It is also not always practicable to airlift a patient. Patients are referred to other hospitals in the cities even when they have minor medical conditions. There haven’t been any dentists assigned here yet. The district hospital is 90 km away,” Muzammil, a resident, told this paper. He also complained about the lack of female multipurpose health workers in the villages as most of the workers are posted in the BMO offices. “In the hospital, there is a staff shortage. Though they are posted elsewhere, the CMO here chooses to keep some of his closed employees in the Bandipora district. According to NRHM guidelines, the CMO has been violating the rules and is continuing to do so. There is an urgent need for gynaecologists in the area, we have contacted various high-ranking officials, including SDM, but they are incapable of helping us. Even if the Block Medical Officer (BMO) takes strong measures against doctors who arrive late to hospitals, the officers receive no support from higher authorities and this has been the case till now,” Samoon Irshad, a social activist from Gurez, Bandipora, told this paper.
This correspondent has also received an application, dated 16 April 2022, written to the Chief Medical Officer of Gurez stating that “…against the sanctioned strength of 20 medical officers, 3 dental surgeons and 5 specialists only 9 medical officer(s) and 2 specialists are presently posted in Medical Block Gurez.” Further it states about the vacancy of 11 medical officers, 3 dental surgeons and 3 specialists (1 physician, 1 gynaecologist and 1 paediatrician).
However, Suhail, a resident of Gurez valley has shown a slightly different picture of Tulait block, Bandipora. He told this paper, “In Gujran village, the doctors are available but there is a lack of medical equipment in the hospitals. Also, only two specialists look after the OPD, that too without proper medical equipment. During Covid times, those two specialists had to treat the patients without any medical facilities.”
Also, the hospitals are not unequipped and most of the expecting ladies are shifted to the main hospitals in Srinagar for deliveries. People living in the rural areas of the valley drink contaminated water which has resulted in an increase in infections among the people. This paper tried to contact the CMO of Gurez, but no proper response was received till this story went to press.