The Khag tehsil in central Kashmir’s Budgam district is grappling with a severe healthcare crisis, as according to locals it remains the only tehsil without a Sub-District Hospital.
The residents complained to Greater Kashmir that all the neighbouring tehsil headquarters have better healthcare facilities despite having a smaller population than Khag.
The government established the Primary Health Centre (PHC) Khag some 60 years ago which the locals said had failed to undergo essential upgrades to reach the level of a Sub-District Hospital.
“Khag tehsil is situated more than 40 km from Srinagar and has a population of around 70,000 which has been left in a precarious position,” said Malik Ghulam Hassan, a senior citizen of Khag.
Presently, the area relies on a seemingly inadequate PHC with few doctors tasked with addressing the health needs of 65 adjoining villages of the tehsil.
The residents from villages like Drung, Gugaldara, Suthrhran, Habber, Shonglypora, Nagbal, Hamchipora, Naserpora, and Malpora have been incessantly demanding the upgradation of the existing healthcare facility to the level of a Sub-District Hospital in Khag.
“The absence of adequate facilities in the existing PHC forces locals to travel to Srinagar even for minor injuries, causing substantial inconvenience,” Hassan said.
He said that despite persistent demands, authorities seem to be ignoring the area.
“The Rural Health Mission scheme, which promises healthcare at people’s doorsteps, appears to be nothing more than an eye wash for people like us,” he said.
Another resident, Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, highlighted the stark contrast between Khag and adjacent tehsil headquarters, claiming that Khag has consistently been neglected by successive political regimes and the present administration as well.
“The financial burden of transporting patients to Srinagar adds to our misery as the majority of the population living here are not financially sound,” he said.
The residents said that the absence of specialised medical professionals, including paediatricians, gynaecologists, surgeons, orthopaedics, and ophthalmologists, compounds the healthcare crisis.
“It doesn’t have facilities like USG, modern dentist chair,” the locals said.
They said that three doctors who were drawing salaries from the PHC Khag were working in other hospitals, leaving the patients at the receiving end.
“During night only BUMS or an NHM doctor is on duty and for minor things we have to refer patients to Magam or Srinagar,” Hassan said.
The locals said that earlier, the Administrative Council (AC), approved the allotment and transfer of land measuring 2 kanal and 10 marla to the Health and Medical Education Department, for establishing the Model Rural Health Research Unit (MRHRU) at Primary Healthcare Centre, Khag, Budgam.
“We were conveyed that new infrastructure will be created to improve the health care facilities for the people of this area and the quality of health services to the rural population will be improved. But it was an eye wash,” the locals said.
Director of Health Services Kashmir Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather told Greater Kashmir that the residents should come to the directorate along with their representation.
“Let them come to my office with their grievances, we will see how we can address their issues,” Rather said.