Kashmir’s public health institutions are in terrible conditions and the doctor-patient ratio is once again under scrutiny after a woman delivered a baby on the road in the snow in front of Lalla Ded Hospital in Srinagar after she was refused an overnight stay. Subsequently, the baby died. However, there have been numerous similar incidents in the past where inquiries have been called but no constructive actions have been taken. Lalla Ded Hospital is the Valley’s largest maternity institution. Many district hospitals refer to LD for further treatment or delivery.
This incident has also brought in light the doctor-patient ratio in Kashmir. According to Kashmir Observer, the doctor-patient ratio in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is one doctor for 3,866 people which is the lowest in India and against the World Health Organization (WHO) norm. As per the WHO, there should be one doctor for every 1000 patients. The 2017 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) highlighted the lack of health infrastructure and human resources in the state. It stressed lack of specialists in the health centres. Despite the government focusing their projects in the countryside and villages, these areas are the most neglected.
In 2018, J&K was awarded for impressive performance in health sector. The award highlighted the state’s initiatives for declining the infant mortality rate by 10 points from 34 to 24 in the years 2014 to 2016. The concerned authorities should look at other aspects such as the condition of the health infrastructure, the number of doctors and specialists in the state and availability of medicines and ambulances. As of late, the health sector has been gaining negative limelight for turning patients away. Moreover, Kashmir is in a state of conflict. Every other day, people with bullet and pellet injuries are rushed to the emergency sections of public and private hospitals. There should be sufficient number of medical personnel to attend the patients. The central government should establish working groups to achieve these and more.