Politicians, administration and medical professionals in JK preferred private hospitals over government hospitals for Covid-19 treatment
The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is currently passing through the most rough and tough period of Covid-19 pandemic process. Initially, when the lockdown was declared by the government to stop any spread of the epidemic, the crux of the administrative health guidelines were aimed at to minimise the spread, create awareness and lead people in general to take the necessary precautions and get educated and trained to face the worst in future. However, our socio-economic activity can’t be suspended for a long time. Today or tomorrow the lockdown was to be eased out, somewhere in phase manner and at other place it was completely lifted. The government alongwith certain social organisations heavily banked upon the awareness drive of the first three to four months period of lockdown, it was considered sufficient to educate and train people in general about the necessary precautions and care and cure stipulations. However, the message was not taken seriously by general public even though the lockdown guidelines were strictly implemented by the administration.
Two important messages are very clear and need to be acknowledged, though painfully. The initial education and training by the government and administration have not been taken seriously by the people to the extent that they have got complacent enough to put themselves in enormous difficulty once the lockdown was lifted partially. Second, the health infrastructure virtually crumbled after the lockdown was lifted since cases increased to an unmanageable level. Presently, the worst hit remain doctors, paramedics and others who are directly and indirectly connected with this noble profession.
Jammu and Kashmir is considered medically and infrastructure wise a backward state though we have a galaxy of efficient doctors. For the last one century, Jammu and Kashmir produced great luminaries in medical profession who earned name and fame at regional, national and international level, yet the infrastructure they needed was/is always, by and large, meager and brittle. It is the reflection of our historical blunders for which mostly the earlier governments and their vision-lethargy would be straightway held responsible.
The pandemic situation has virtually exposed the whole health scenario of Jammu and Kashmir burying the ‘secrets’ of the profession, if at all these were existing here. When Director of Health, Jammu division, got infected, she preferred a high tech private hospital than the government hospital. Same is the case with some higher-ups in politics, administration and in the medical profession that all of them preferred to get admitted privately than being admitted in government hospitals. It is because that all of them are fully aware and conscious of the infrastructural deficiencies and lacuna of the system the government has created and is maintaining for the last seven decades.
India is not comparatively nearer to the West so far as the health infrastructure, study, research and development are concerned. However, India has a large number of good and capable doctors and paramedical staff all over the country. They are considered one among the best at an international level. But being the best without the best facilitation in the current context is the biggest bane. Expert voices in the field of medicine in Jammu and Kashmir have their own experiences and research. The worst experiences include theirs getting infected for none of their fault.
Apathy of medical professionals
Dr. R K Chrungoo, one of the senior most successful luminary surgeons of Jammu and Kashmir, presently living in Jammu, is one of the victims of the dreaded virus. His daughter, Dr. Sunakshi Chrungoo, an MS trainee who had been put on continuous and relentless duty in the hospital (without the necessary PP kit) by the authorities got infected and spread it in her home too.
The whole family was declared Covid positive including one more senior member of the family with the medical history.
The moral of this classical story remains that the most vulnerable among the people are the men and women who are either from the medical profession or are Carona warriors. The administrative focus seems to have been somewhat lost in absence of expert advices.
Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) President Dr. Nissar Ul Hassan, who is also an expert voice and who has done a lot of research is of the opinion that the current crisis can't be called the ‘second wave of pandemic.’ As per his opinion, the pandemic is perfectly in continuity in Jammu and Kashmir right ab initio. “There is no laxity at all. Moreover, due to the possible change in mutation of the virus the impact is huge. We are indeed in stage 3.” He adds that there is possibility of severe spread in the days to come because of due change in atmosphere. “I will call the situation alarming particularly when the public is not interested to take the necessary precautions and observance of hygienic methods.” He holds the administration responsible for not taking the expert opinion into recurring while taking important decisions regarding the issuance of guidelines frequently.
India’s earlier statistics regarding the pandemic have now changed. Some of them suggest negative impact while some speak about positive output. While the mortality rate has improved (below 2 percent) along with the rate of recovery (which is now almost 80 percent), the spread has brought the number of victims in India almost in proportion to its population vis-a-vis the world population. It is indeed alarming so far as the future is concerned. There is no other alternative but to go with the administrative guidelines strictly along with the doctor's advice while making it sure that the immunity at an individual level is further strengthened. It may be a fact that the South Asians and the Africans have a higher degree of immunity but other factors are there to stay. The virtually insignificant health infrastructure in the country in context of such a pandemic has the best (rather the worst) example available in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. Could this challenge be converted into an opportunity, especially in the UT, is a million dollar question. The Lt. Governor of the UT has hinted at a robust improvement in the days to come. We would appeal to the LG to take eminent experts of the field in confidence before the big plans are made and implemented.
This is a trying situation, initially for the valley because of the winter season ahead, and also for the entire Jammu and Kashmir with effect from December onwards in absence of a credible vaccine. Possibly India might also create its own version by the next year but it is long race up till then. Hope the government is listening, for the administration to gear up for the future, which undoubtedly is tough and challenging.