Hospitals in J&K facing acute shortage of doctors, condition worst in rural areas

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, June 3: Notwithstanding claims of Government to open new Medical Colleges and Hospitals, the existing hospitals in the State are confronted with shortage of doctors and paramedical staff putting patients to a lot of trouble and problems.
According to reliable sources, the State is facing such a huge shortage of doctors that not to speak of maintaining the World Health Organization’s (WHO) patient doctor ratio which is 1:500, it has even failed to maintain Western standard of doctor patient ratio 1:1000.
Sources said the prevailing doctor patient ratio in the State is over 1:2000 with the result the doctors in hospitals are over burdened and hence they fail to provide proper attention to the patients in the hospitals who visit there for treatment. This often results into public resentment or clash between doctors or para medical staff and patients attendants, sources added.
The shortage of doctors as well as paramedical staff also creates difficulties for the hospital administration especially in rural areas in running the emergencies especially in the event like accidents or the natural calamities.
Sources said the situation in some district and sub district hospitals is so grave that over 50 percent posts of doctors are lying vacant there and the system is totally run on the basis of adhocism.
Sources said lack of doctors has forced the authorities in the Health Department to do away with their earlier decision of running health centers for both day and night hours. Though running of primary health centers for round the clock has become need of hour to provide better medicare facilities to the people and maintain a good public health in the State, the Health Department is not in a position to provide such services due to dearth of doctors and paramedical staff.
According  to available figures in Rajouri district out of a total strength of 235 doctors in Sub District and other hospitals only 87 are available while among the 106 posts of doctors working under National Health Mission (NHM) in the district only 88 are available.
Sources said in the district there are total seven Sub District hospitals for which seven posts of Radiologists have been sanctioned but only one doctor is available while six are vacant. Besides, the one post of A Grade Pathologist, one Ophthalmologist and one post of A Grade Gynecologist is also lying vacant in District Hospital Rajouri.
According to official figures, the DH Rajouri has a sanctioned strength of 22 Medical Officers out of which only 12 are posted. In addition to it, there are five posts of NHM doctors in DH Rajouri out of which two are only available at present and rest are vacant.
Moreover, there is one sanctioned post of Medical Officer for Blood Bank Rajouri but the same is also lying vacant. The post of Radiologist and one post of Orthopedician is also lying vacant in DH Rajouri, sources added.
In the district out of 22 posts of Medical Officers, 12 are available while one of them is also absconding for a long time, sources added.
The situation is also not better in District Poonch where out of 120 sanctioned posts of Medical Officers only 28 are available while out of 48 Specialists 22 are available in the district.
In Ramban district out of two Gynecologists, one post is lying vacant while there is no post of Anesthesiologist, no Radiologist and out of two sanctioned posts of Orthopedicians only one is available. Besides, the hospital has two sanctioned posts of Dermatologists which are lying vacant for a long time. In addition to it out of 22 Medical Officers four are lying vacant in the hospital besides, one post of Dental Surgeon, one post of pediatrician and one post of Consultant Physician are also lying vacant.
In Bhaderwah out of 17 sanctioned posts of doctors 13 are lying vacant while in Udhampur district out of 271 sanctioned posts of doctors 150 are in position as per official sources while 121 are lying vacant. These include posts of specialists also.
Alone in DH Udhampur out of 22 posts of Medical Officers 12 are lying vacant while the post of one Dermatologist, one Gynecologist and one junior Radiologist is lying vacant at present.
In DH Ramban  out of 22 Medical Officers sanctioned for the hospital four are lying vacant while one post of Gynecologist , one Orthopedic Surgeon, two Dermatologists, one Dental Surgeon, one Pediatrician  and one Consultant physician is lying vacant.
Besides, out of 57 paramedical posts sanctioned for the hospital 35 are vacant and out of 11 posts of junior staff nurses six are vacant. Same is the position in the periphery hospitals of the district, sources added.
In block Bani of Kathua district sources said out of 24 sanctioned posts six are available while 18 are vacant. In Basholi block out of sanctioned 53posts of doctors 11 are available and rest are vacant and in Billawar block of the same district out of 48 sanctioned posts of doctors 14 are functional while rest are vacant.
In Hiranagar block out of 27 sanctioned posts of doctors 15 are available and rest short and In Kathua block out of 38 sanctioned posts of doctors 17 are available while rest are short. The situation is not better in district Hospital Kathua also where out of 57 sanctioned posts of doctors 26 are available and rest vacant. In Mahatma Gandhi Hospital Kathua the sanctioned number of posts is 11 out of which seven are working at present rest are vacant. In district T B Hospital Kathua out of three sanctioned posts of doctors only two are functioning at present while one is vacant.
Moreover, out of three posts of doctors in CMO Office, Kathua two are available and one is vacant and out of 1362 sanctioned posts of paramedical and other staff 400 are vacant in the district. There is also a shortage of nine ambulances in the district, sources added.
Sources said that the Government Sub District Hospital Samba has not been designated as District Hospital till date and it is still functioning as SDH in papers. Its facilities as DH have not been increased so far.
Sources said out of 129 posts in entire district of Samba 110 are available and 19 are short.
Sources said there is a lot of shortage of doctors in Doda district. The DH Doda has a shortage of Specialists and Consultants. Out of 21 posts of Medical Officers six have been deployed as Specialists as the Hospital has shortage of specialists.
There is no Radiologist, Anesthesiologist II, Physician II and ENT. The hospital is facing acute shortage of Medical Officers which in turn affects running of emergency services smoothly. Being the hilly belt the hospital is always overburdened with accidental patients and doctors as well as other paramedical staff have to face the wrath of the people on such occasions as due to lack of manpower the hospital staff face difficulty in treating the patients during such occasions.
There is tremendous shortage of paramedical staff in DH Doda and other hospitals of the district also, sources added.
In district Kishtwar situation is worse as out of sanctioned strength of 102 doctors, 36 are available and 66 are vacant. There are only four Medical Officers in periphery hospitals two in Padder and two in Chatru rest hospitals are on the mercy of God, sources revealed.
Sources said in District Hospital Reasi out of 17 sanctioned posts of specialists eight are available while nine are vacant. There is no Surgeon, Orthopedic Surgeon, no Gynecologist etc in the hospital and out of nine Medical Officers in the hospital only four are available.   The same is position in the SDHs of the district also, sources added.
Though the Directors of Medical and Health Department of Kashmir and Jammu respectively claim that there is no shortage of doctors in the State and doctors are available as per sanctioned strength but on ground the position is totally opposite.
Even there is shortfall of doctors in Jammu and Srinagar districts also. In Ganderbal district of Kashmir valley the authorities were forced to deploy the doctors from periphery hospitals to run the District Hospital as there is tremendous shortage of doctors too.  Out of 53 vacancies in the hospital 47 were deployed from other hospitals of the district to make the hospital functional with the result the shortage persists in other hospitals of the district.
The authorities were forced to close the night shift at PHC Butwani in the district following the shortage of doctors generating a lot of public resentment. The people of the area not only protested against the decision but accused the administration of betrayal.
However, the new Health and Medical Education Minister, Dr D K Manyal on whom people have many expectations because he himself belongs to medical profession said all steps are being taken to overcome the problem. He said 371 posts of doctors were selected by PSC and out of them 200 will be deployed in Medical Colleges of State to undergo PG courses. The remaining 171 posts will be deployed in the hospitals in peripheries. Besides, more doctors will be appointed on contractual basis under NHM first for three years and then their term will be extended to six years, he added.