Kupwara hospital without ophthalmologist: 200 Cataract surgeries deferred


More than 200 eye surgeries mostly of cataract have got deferred at district hospital Kupwara for past over three months as the lone ophthalmologist consultant was transferred to community health center Gurez in Bandipora district in November last year leaving the patients to fend for themselves, hospital insiders and locals said.
Non-availability of ophthalmologist is forcing patients to travel to Srinagar hospitals and private clinics for treatment and many poor patients are unable to afford surgeries at private clinics have been waiting to avail the services of consultant, they said.
The locals threatened to take to streets if the post of ophthalmologist was not reverted to the hospital and the consultant under transfer or an equal replacement not posted at the health facility without further delay. 
“I was listed for a cataract surgery on December 11 last year but to date I have been visiting hospital almost daily but only to be told by the medical staff that the surgery cannot be performed due to the transfer of ophthalmologist,” Ghulam Hassan, a Lalpora village resident said.
“I am a poor person and cannot afford surgery at a private clinic which costs over Rs 20000. It is sheer injustice with the people of Kupwara and particularly patients that this hospital has been deprived of much-needed services of an ophthalmologist for over three months,” he added.
Aisha Begum (60), has been waiting endlessly for the cataract surgery since December 25.
“I made several visits to the hospital but returned dejected each time. If the senior doctor was transferred to some other hospital around three months ago the authorities should have sent a replacement to fill the vacancy,” Begum, a Gushi village resident said. 
The 50-bedded hospital receives between 70 to 80 patients with eye-related ailments at an average daily, according to the official figures. The last cataract surgery was conducted on November 21 last year by pphthalmologist Dr. Manzoor Ahmad, but he was transferred the same day to Gurez health centre, along with post, despite the centre not having an ophthalmologist post. 
The locals expressed great resentment to the authorities against the “unjustified” move of transferring the ophthalmologist along with the post.
“It is sheer injustice with the people of the district. The authorities ignored a huge population of over three lakhs from Kupwara town and its several adjoining areas dependent for medical care on this hospital and posted the medical specialist in Gurez tehsil to cater to the medical needs of barely 30000 people,” Shamim Ahmad, a local resident said.
“The authorities cannot take people of Kupwara for granted for long and ignore their sufferings. They should immediately send the doctor back or post another senior ophthalmologist so that patients do not suffer any more. We will be forced to take to streets, if the authorities do not address the issue,” he added. 
Chief medical officer Kupwara Pralad Singh said, “There is no issue at the hospital. Media has a habit of making issues of trivial matters.”

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