by Muazzam Khursheed
SRINAGAR: As Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing an unprecedented spike of Covid-19 cases, with thousand testing positive and numerous succumbing to the virus daily, a report published in The Economic Times last week stated that, “Jammu and Kashmir has recorded around 700 percent increase in Covid-19 active cases in four weeks of April from 2874 cases on April 1 to around 22283 active cases on Tuesday”.
The pandemic, which is ravaging many parts of the country with its second wave, has put heavy constraints on the functioning of healthcare in the region, as patients struggle to find hospital beds and oxygen metering and providing equipment. One of those desperate men was Shabir Ali, a resident of Mahind village near Bejbahara in Anantnag. He too was fighting the pandemic with five of his family members including his children – all-positive.
Upon testing positive Shabir said he visited GMC Anantnag where he was asked to get a number of tests done by the doctors present. However, he alleged that “the amount of chaos and mismanagement there was just unbelievable, I along with numerous other Covid positive patients was made to wait there by the doctors and staff for hours.”
In comparison, Shabir claims, the Public Health Centres are doing a much wonderful job than these big hospitals.
Upon returning home, Shabir was highly stressed, after testing positive. “I was very much panicked initially and got in touch with a few doctors who prescribed me a number of medicines,” Shabir said. Instead of showing signs of improvement, Shabir’s symptoms began deteriorating further, and that’s when his next-door neighbour and friend, Farooq Ahmad, a labourer who was himself diagnosed with Covid two weeks ago along with his family, called him.
Farooq shared the contact number of a doctor named, Raashid Rasheed, a medical officer posted at Public Health Centre K Kalan, a small village six km from Bijbehara town, urging him to follow his advice. Kalan, however, is barely 2 kms from Shabir Ali’s home.
“Farooq began praising the doctor and when he said that he would himself call him twice a day when he was positive, I was impressed and decided to consult him,” Shabir said.
As he hanged up the call with Farooq, the same doctor called him from the other side, informing him that the list of positives from other health facilities had arrived and Shabir’s contact number was in the list. “He inquired about my welfare, listened to me with absolute compassion and recommended some medication, I requested for an oximeter, which was sent to my residence within half an hour.”
By now Dr Raashid would call Shabir as well as hundreds of other positive patients of the area twice a day to enquire about their health and quench their queries.
Within a few days Shabir’s symptoms began to fade and his vitals showed considerable improvement. This morning, however, his high pulse rate caught his eye. He dialled Dr Raashid.
“He (Dr Raashid) calmed me down and asked me to take some medicines,” a highly emotional Shabir said on phone. However, to much of Shabir’s surprise, the doctor personally reached his residence within 15 minutes of his call along with his medical team and examined the condition of all his family members thoroughly. “This small act of doctor sahib made me a bit emotional and highly impressed at the same time, there are very few doctors like him who are serving people selflessly in this pandemic,” Shabir, under a huge emotion load, currently, said. Overwhelmed, Shabir decided to post about the doctor on his facebook wall. “I don’t usually post on social media, but I want people to know about this noble doctor.”
Dr Raashid is a young doctor. After completing his MBBS from GMC Jammu in 2007, has been rendering his services for nearly 14 years now. “One of the major problems that is hindering the medical fraternity’s fight against Covid19 is that people are refraining from getting tested, which is proving to be major roadblock,” Dr Dr Raashid told this reporter.
Apart from high workload and less manpower, Dr Raashid said another major problem is the unavailability of Covid-19 rapid testing kits at the PHC’s. Earlier they would receive nearly 200 rapid kits a day but now the number has come down to just 30 – 40 kits, “due to non-availability of Covid-19 rapid kits, we are forced to conduct RT-PCR tests, whose samples have to be sent to GMC Anantnag by 1 pm, which prevents us from conducting anymore test after 1pm,” says Dr Raashid.
“People need to stop unnecessarily travel in order to contain the virus, in many cases we have observed that as one family member tests positive, others are at some relatives place, this adds more fuel to the fire and does nothing other than spreading the virus,” Dr Raashid advised. “As far as my knowledge and experience is concerned the month of May is very critical and people need to be most cautious in this month, mask is the most important factor followed by getting tested if symptoms show or any close contact tests positive.”