Arshid Malik

On May 16 Danish, two months old baby, from Shopian was sick. On May 16th he was dead. That is perhaps the new average life span of small children in Kashmir all “kudos” to the only children’s hospital in the Valley, G. B Pant Children’s Hospital.

This very hospital in the only one on which parents of new born and young babies can rely for healthcare of their children and “hats off” to the hospital authorities as well as the administration in Kashmir this lonely hospital is a mess, which includes utmost negligence and lack of proper infrastructure.

In almost a fortnights time, three dozen children died under the “care and attention” of the medics at G B Pant Children’s Hospital. And when that happened people, especially the parents of the deceased children, raised their voice. When the civil population in the Valley got to know about the deaths they agitated.

They had to as the authorities at the hospital and in the administrative circles in Kashmir were none to “savvy” to care about the recent deaths. What if the people whose children died at the hospital had not raised their voice and the matter would not have been reported by the press? Well, children, infants and kids, more of them would have died. The authorities at the hospital must have known the prevailing situation and state of affairs but they did not care to budge and do something about it.

They had to be rattled “awake”. And soon after statements from mainstream political leaders started pouring in, grieving notes and resolutions to upgrade the facilities at the G B Pant Children’s Hospital dotted the media. Why they didn’t think of it before is and remains a mystery. The shortest explanation offered from a civic angle is that they do not care at all. Had it not been like that they would certainly have upgraded the facilities at the hospital as also laid the foundations (something the mainstream political elite cherish so very much) of some more much needed children’s speciality healthcare facilities. It is after all a fact that a single, under equipped hospital can cater to the medical needs of all the children of the Valley. But that does not rule out the factor that the hospital and civic administration were negligent.

Kashmir has taken enough of deaths in the past more than two decades at the hands of unabated violence and we cannot afford at all to lose our children to the lackadaisical attitude of the administration here in the State. Too many parents have lost their children to bullets and mortar and now a spate of unaccounted deaths is too much of a burden to bear. The authorities should consider on a primary basis that the people of Kashmir are under threat all the time and stiffly stressed out. The authorities have to pay attention to the needs of Kashmiri people otherwise no one can rule out another “uprising”.

There is a practical limit to how much an individual can take and that is what needs to be assessed in Kashmir. Kashmiri people need care and affection after having gone through the ravages of a “borderline war” and if the administration in the State wants to give something to the people they should consider proper healthcare facilities. We do not have counselling centres in Kashmir and the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital Srinagar Kashmir is another mess while we are at it. A study was conducted by the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in October 2011, and the study revealed that around 55 percent of the population is fighting various kinds of mental disorders, ranging from the very common Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to Bipolar Disorders and Schizophrenia. According to statistics made available by research conducted in the field of mental health the number of patients relying on the lone mental health hospital in Kashmir increased from 1200 in 1989 to 100,000 in 2011. While foreign welfare organizations (NGOs) are aiding Kashmiris to deal with stress disorders the state government has practically done nothing. At the end of the day, when common Kashmiri people hit the streets and start pelting stones and shouting slogans against the administration, the administration resorts to the use of artillery against them. Is it justified that without considering the situation of imbalance among Kashmiri people, especially children, and consulting think tanks regarding rehab the authorities use brute force.

Be it the case of G B Pant Children’s Hospital or primary health care centres across the valley of Kashmir, there is a vast chasm between a proper health care system and a “desi jugad” (workaround).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here