Lack of Doctors hits healthcare services, rural areas bear the brunt

Srinagar: Healthcare services in the rural hospitals are in bad shape, especially with the Primary Health Centers (PHCs) grappling with shortage of doctors.

One of the officials in the health department said that the situation in rural health centres has reached a breaking point. “Go to any hospital in rural Kashmir, there is a beeline of people. The demand and provision of services has increased over the years, but due to shortage of doctors, the quality of services is bound to suffer,” said the official.

The prevailing scenario vis-à-vis availability of doctors can be gauged from the figures which reveal that the doctor-patient ratio in Jammu Kashmir is 1:1880 against the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) of 1:1000.

“Nothing has changed considerably on the ground from the shortage of doctors. Most of the district hospitals have become referral hospitals, while the Government Medical College Hospitals have been flooded with patients from other districts and the hospital administration is facing extreme hardships in providing better healthcare facilities to all the patients,” a source in the health department said.

The situation is worst in the hospitals at some district headquarters and in remote areas where vacancies of doctors are ranging between 50%. “Every time when the issue of shortage of manpower is raised at any forum the ball is put in the court of recruiting agencies-Public Services Commission and Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board, but no serious efforts were ever made to exert pressure on these recruiting agencies to expedite the recruitment process so that real objective and vision of the Health and Medical Education Department is achieved,”

On the other hand, despite several benefits, doctors don’t want to go to the rural areas because of various reasons. “They don’t get good facilities for their families such as education and ease of living as they get in urban cities,” said a senior health ministry official.

“We are trying our level best to move doctors to rural areas because these areas too require good healthcare services.”

According to official data, in 2015-16, 1.2 crore patients were examined in hospitals of rural Kashmir. The number is twice the OPD load in rural Kashmir in 2010-11. However, there has been no substantial allocation of additional human resources to cater to this load, the official said.

“Hundreds of female doctors, whatever be their qualification and specialty, are being made to handle cases that properly need a gynecologist or obstetrician to attend to.”

The Director health services Kashmir Dr Salem-u-Rehman said that the requirement for additional human resource had been proposed to government and that they were hopeful that more posts of doctors would be sanctioned. “We have support from other schemes and programs but if we want to continue delivery of healthcare and services we would definitely need more doctors,” he said.


(With inputs from KNS)

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