SHOPIAN: A district without a district hospital

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Ten years ago Shopian was accorded the status of a district. Several administrative institutions were automatically upgraded to match the transition to the higher level. But this upgrade on papers hasn’t worked for the sub-district hospital (SDH) that was set up in 1977 and currently caters to a population of about 2.70 lakh people.
The SDH was built when Shopian was a tehsil of Anantnag district. It later became tehsil of Pulwama district, from which it was carved out a separate district 10 years ago. About 95% population of the district is rural, 15% of it tribal.
The SDH still operates from the old, run-down building and no new infrastructure has been added to it during the past decade. Work has been stopped on a new building, which has been under construction since 2009, for reasons no official was willing to divulge.
A district hospital is supposed to have 30 medical officers, 4 physicians, 4 surgeons, 4 gynecologists, 2 anesthesiologists, 1 ophthalmologist, 1 radiologist, 3 pediatricians, 2 orthopedicians, 1 dermatologist, 2 ENT specialists, 30 staff nurses, 15 pharmacists, 25 class fourth employees, 20 sanitation workers, 2 lady health visitors, 2 sanitary inspectors, 4 female multi-purpose health workers, 6 drivers, 4 theatre assistants, 4 theatre boys, 3 ophthalmic technicians, 1 senior assistant and 4 junior assistants.
Official records show that the staff strength in the so-called district hospital in Shopian currently is: 7 medical officers, 1 anesthesiologist, 1 gynecologist, 1 surgeon, 1 physician, 2 dental surgeons, 6 staff nurses, 4 pharmacists, 1 theatre assistant, 2 X-ray assistants, 3 laboratory assistants, 1 dental assistant, 1 FMPHW, 3 drivers, 1 LHV, 1 sanitary inspector and 1 physiotherapist.
That is probably why a few documents sent by the Directorate of Health Services to the office of the chief medical officer, Shopian, and the medical superintendent of the hospital still refer to it as a sub-district hospital. Also, there is no board or sign announcing that it is a district hospital.
“Because of limited facilities we refer a huge number of patients to Srinagar,” said a doctor on the condition of anonymity.
“Many a time when we refer any patient or face problems in treating some critical patients due to lack of staff and other facilities we face the wrath of the people. Many times the doctors and other staff have been beaten up. We face public wrath because of lazy and irresponsible governments,” he said.
Director Health Kashmir Saleem-ur-Rehman said Shopian hospital is a “district hospital with sub-district hospital staff”.
“We have written to the government about this issue but we are yet to get staff of a district hospital,” he said.

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