Shameema Jan left her home in Newa village of Pulwama, south Kashmir, at 8 am to board a shared cab with her infant daughter in arms to reach Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in Srinagar. The 36-year-old came to the capital city hoping for better treatment. 

Standing in a long queue outside a consulting room in Out-Patient Department (OPD), she says, “[But] we wait here for hours. There are hundreds of patients and a very few doctors treat them amidst chaos.”

Economic Survey 2019, released by the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that the doctor-patient ratio in Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) is 1:1,658 against the recommended norm of 1:1,000.

The washrooms in the emergency section are unhealthy; it doesn’t even have locks.

But, that’s not it. In the adjacent corridor, inside emergency block, the washrooms are not clean; even the basic facilities like mugs are missing. The patients and attendants are suffering due to poor management. Hashim Sofi, an attendant at SMHS Hospital says, “The washrooms in the emergency section are unhealthy; it doesn’t even have locks.”

Not only in SMHS Hospital, in different hospitals across Srinagar, the attendants complaint of unhygienic washrooms and lack of waiting areas. “There are very less benches for the attendants in this hospital,” says a man, who has been sitting on the floor in GB Pant Hospital since the morning. “Out of these two lifts, only one is functional.”

In Lal Ded Hospital, the region’s biggest maternity hospital, Ghulam Ahmad Bhat, 62, a resident of Bhatnoora, Pulwama, had brought her pregnant daughter for delivery. “There are only two waiting halls here and that too without mattings,” he says, complaining of lack of space for attendants. “They shut washrooms during night and force us to urinate outside the hospital.”

 

Patients waiting in a long queue outside a consulting room in SMHS hospital. Photograph by Bhat Burhan
An attendant waiting in the backyard of Lal Ded hospital. Photograph by Bhat Burhan
A pile of garbage inside the premises of Super Specialty hospital. Photograph by Bhat Burhan
Attendants having lunch inside the waiting hall of Lal Ded hospital. Photograph by Bhat Burhan
Attendants sitting on the floor in the corridor of G.B. Pant hospital. Photograph by Bhat Burhan

Bhat Burhan is a Multimedia Reporter at The Kashmir Walla.

The photo-essay was published in our 24 February-1 March 2020 print edition.

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