Kashmiris Demand Improved Health Care

National Rural Health Mission fails to provide accessible health care in Budgam district.

About the video: People from Budgam district in Kashmir have to travel up to 28 km to get to the closest district hospital and 8 km to reach the closest Primary Health Centre. Without any connecting roads people have to carry patients across expanses of uneven terrain even in cases of emergency. The mission to get to the nearest centre becomes even more impossible during monsoon and winter. The walkways are either sodden through the rains or slippery and inaccessible from the snow. As the health centre closes at night, medical help is limited to daytime only. And the sole medical help on hand is the compounder who doubles as the doctor.  

The Community correspondent says: IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Sajjd Rasool from Budgam district recounts: "About four years ago a commission team from the Health Department was in the villages to find out about the condition of health care in the area. They promised a local hospital, but after they left, nothing happened. The communities suffer a serious lack of available health services and are in the desperate need to have a doctor, who is based locally and is available for 24 hours in cases of emergency." 

The Issue: In 2005 the National Rural Health Mission was launched by the Government of India to provide accessible, affordable and quality health services to the poorest households in the remotest rural regions. Budgam district of the state Jammu and Kashmir covers 1,371 sq and many villages are not connected with cities through a proper road system. 86 percent of the population in the district live in these villages and are primarily involved in agriculture. 

The Department of Health set up a planning team in 2007 to work on a District Action Plan for all districts. Local Health facilities were assessed and evaluated. As they are supposed to meet the demands of women, children and men in the rural areas. 

The district report for Budgam states that for keeping 722.638 local people in good health, there are severe gaps in infrastructure, equipment, drugs and human resources. Some of the issues raised in the data are: There is no hospital in the area and out of 45 Primary Health Care Centres only two centres are open for 24 hours. Medical staff in the district is supported by 10 Public Health Nurses, 39 General Physicians and one Obstetricians, but no Gynecologists. 

To improve the health service the District Action Plan generated 1372.065596 lakh for the improvement of the PHC services. On top of this an extra of 5063.36688 lakh were planned to be invested in 24x7 PHCs. An expansion of staff was initiated to reach the communities in the remote areas. Among others, five extra General Physicians, 103 extra Public Health Care Nurses and eight Gynecologists. 

Call for action: The Health Department claims their plans and research have been conducted on the basis of a participatory and inclusive approach. The local people of Budgam district have only seen the planning team once in four years. There have not been any further consultations and the promise to build a local hospital has been forgotten. 

Therefore, the community demands action from the local authorities to provide the area with adequate health care facilities. Apart from the hospital, which has been promised to them, people want 24x7 health care service to be available to the communities. Access to medicine, appropriate equipment and regular health checks for men, women and children are the basic health needs of every Indian. 

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