Author: Saadut
•3:52 PM

Not less than 358 infants have died in Kashmir’s only children’s hospital since January this year. In March alone 105 deaths have been reported, while April took 85 lives. The first fortnight of May has already recorded 34 deaths and it took so long for the government to even admit that its health system was in shambles. Ironically J&K Minister for Medical Education after touring the hospital on Wednesday (16th May) is reported to have termed these deaths as ‘normal’. What was he comparing his ‘normal’ figure to? Sub-Saharan Africa could score better than this surely. One could see the blasphemy in this statement, attempting to portray ‘all is well here’. 

For a visitor to the hospital the infrastructure here resembles more to a crammed commuter train and the conditions more akin to a garbage dumping site. A hospital which has dual administrative control seems to be managed by none. The five ventilators in the hospital were providing life support to the whole of Kashmir and most of the times 3 or more babies crammed into one; surely none of the kin of politicians would have ever been treated here.

But the hospital did not come to this decay all of a sudden. There has been a gradual denial of attention towards health care in Kashmir by the government and Children’s hospital been the biggest recipient of this neglect. From want to infrastructure to having been God forsaken between ‘situated in Cantonment area’ and ‘who controls it?’ the children of Kashmir are getting a raw deal.

I have my own nightmarish experience with this hospital. Almost a year back I was running desperate in the hospital, during an emergency. I was at the end of my life’s despair when a doctor I know suggested moving out at a very critical moment ‘this is a butcher place’ he said. I managed to move out just in time from the ‘state neglect clutches’ to redemption; what would a resource less, poor and unconnected common Kashmiri manage?

I see traits of 2010 killings in these 358 deaths also. Then more than 100 kids were killed by the ‘iron fisted’ apathy of the state, now 358 kids have died to the ‘indifference and ineptitude’ of the state. What difference in both cases when there is no intention on part of the state to save lives, no compassion, and no sense of responsibility? At least I see none.

The Kashmir conflict has been used by them as a smokescreen to hide and justify bad governance, while the conflict, the containment of conflict aftereffects and trauma should have been the reason for better governance. You know that the state needs a ventilator as much as these kids need the emergency systems, when the Minister of health terms these infant deaths as ‘normal’.  When the state governance head does not even bother to visit the hospital to check for himself the situation at ground, you know that governance is at its death bed here (if not already dead).

Golf courses worth billions and 5 star events are just the high-end PR of governance, glossy photographs for the news papers. Real governance is different, touches the poor common man and they have utterly failed here. Ironically while the enthusiasm of the Heath minister of India for ‘millions of tulips in Srinagar’ is well known, his concern about the pathetic state of the Srinagar children hospital has not been heard yet.

Clearly the seasonal tulips of Srinagar Tulip garden cultivated with great care and at a huge ‘exchequer expense’ are dearer to India than the flower buds of poor Kashmiri’s. 

17th May, 2012

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