When political machinations affect health

Healthcare is a fundamental right of every citizen. Under no circumstances should it become victim, particularly under a politically-made situation. There have been several reports about healthcare problems in the Kashmir valley after imposition of curbs on 5th August 2019.

Dr Arun Mitra, Co-President International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear war (IPPNW) a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization in 1985 and then in 2017 as a partner in International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Senior Vice President Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD), visited the Kashmir valley in this regard to assess the healthcare situation there after the imposition of curbs.

Some doctors belonging to Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) had requested the union Home Minister to facilitate their visit to the valley but unfortunately the minister did not care to reply.

The issue was highlighted after Dr. Omar, urologist, was detained when he requested for removal of curbs on movement of doctors and patients and ensure supply of medical equipment needed for dialysis and other problems.

Psychological issues are aplenty and are going to take a big toll of the society in times to come. People are living under extremely stressful conditions, a feeling of defeat and being cheated. They fear talking about their feelings to anyone.

There is a complete lack of trust. There is a general feeling that over eleven thousand people have been detained and sent to other states, put in jails in Agra, Delhi and being maltreated in extremely inhumane conditions. Such information must definitely increase their stress and fill them with anger and helplessness.

Children are filled with stress and anger and have not been attending schools for over 70 days. Younger ones ask their parents why they cannot go to school. They miss their friends and classes. The youth must fear losing their career as the colleges are shut, too.

For the ones that are open, parents are fearful for the lives of their children and do not allow them to go. Lack of communication makes it dangerous as they would lose any way of connecting to them.

The absence of telecommunication services prevents the general population from contacting any doctors in case of emergencies, Dr Mitra has found. A miniscule population has landline telephones, which are working but erratically.

Cross consultation among doctors is no go as they cannot reach each other either. In the event that a patient has to be taken to a doctor, absence of any public transport system makes it quite difficult, especially from far flung areas.

In the absence of internet, placing an order for supply of drugs and medical equipment is tough. Billing is tedious. There is a shortage of the anti-cancer and anti-diabetic drugs.

Since no business activity has been taking place, people’s economic situation is deteriorating. The lives of daily wage earners, small business, transporters and the shikara drivers are hit the most.

The people had stocked up on staples like rice, but these are surely running out. People from low socio economic strata were quite vocal that their first necessity is food to survive. It is obvious that when there is no proper nutrition, their physical health will suffer immensely, too.

According to Dr Mitra, the J&K Government must ensure an extensive drug supply, movement of patients and doctors without hassle at any time of day, and restore communication networks including mobile phones and internet services immediately.

Further, arrested persons, starting with children, should be released immediately. There must be a dialogue with all stake holders and ensure constitutional rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Any increase in tension between India and Pakistan is dangerous. Any escalation in tension between the two could pose threat of use of nuclear weapons which would be disastrous for the whole world and would put over 2 billion people at risk of starvation and death. To prevent this, a dialogue between the two countries is essential, says Dr Mitra.

Satyaki Chakraborty is a freelance journalist Views are personal. Picture courtesy: Web