While stories of lack of health services, medical negligence and unaffordable healthcare fill our mediascapes, a rural health centre in Shopian shows the way.
Kashmir’s Shopian district is mostly in the news for conflict; as is most of the Kashmir valley. While violence makes it to the headlines, other, often related social and developmental issues don’t. News of the state of healthcare, education and public infrastructure seem to be few and far between although these are issues that affect everyday life in conflict-ridden Kashmir.
Community Correspondent Basharat Amin, who reports from Shopian, is also a human rights activist working on development in the region. Most recently, he documented the story of the D.K. Pora Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the district which, according to his report, is leading by example in the field of rural healthcare.
When asked why he thinks it is important for stories on healthcare and public infrastructure to be reported from areas hit by unrest, Basharat says, “It is about the ethics of reporting, we must present a balanced picture. A positive story like this is important for me because it depicts other aspects of life in Shopian as well, it shows the other issues that common people have to face apart from conflict. And when someone is doing something good, they also need to be appreciated.”
Basharat has also reported on inefficient PHCs in the region like the Abhama Health Centre in Pulwama. “Conflict affects people in many ways, and it affects things like people’s access to basic facilities. Therefore, it is important to report these stories as well,” he says.
The PHC in D.K. Pora is well-equipped in terms of infrastructure, staff and essential drugs. “It is the only PHC in Shopian that provides round the clock care to patients,” says Javaid Ahmed, one of the two Medical Officers posted at the PHC. The centre also gives patients the option of choosing between allopathic care and alternative medicine like ayurveda and naturopathy.
In May 2018, the PHC was felicitated by the National Health Mission under the Kayakalp scheme, for outstanding sanitation and infection control practices in public health facilities. Bilal Ahmed, a patient Basharat spoke to, says that it is a well-deserved award. Apart from sanitation and the availability of facilities, what patients appreciate is that the doctors and the nursing staff are also respectful of them.
D.K. Pora is an example of how efficient rural health centres can be if they have the right staff, resources and training. Many government schemes like the Janani Suraksha Yojana and even the new Ayushman Bharat insurance scheme have been criticised because no cash incentive or insurance scheme is going to work if health centres don’t even have basic facilities like beds and essential drugs.
A recent study published in The Lancet posits that 1.6 million people in India died in 2016 due to the poor quality of care. An efficient public health system, which the D.K. Pora Primary Health Centre shows the way towards in terms of service delivery, could help prevent many, many of these avoidable deaths.
Video by Community Correspondent Basharat Amin
Article by Alankrita Anand, a member of the VV Editorial Team