Srinagar, Nov 17: The rural healthcare system in Kashmir is facing a severe setback with numerous vacant positions for medical professionals, adversely impacting both the health services in remote areas and adding strain to tertiary care hospitals.
This correspondent, in a bid to assess the shortage of healthcare personnel in rural areas, filed a Right to Information (RTI) application with the Health Department, that revealed alarming realities.
The responses from various districts portrayed a stark picture of unfilled positions, significantly impeding the health system in Kashmir.
The Block Medical Officer (BMO) Handwara highlighted vacancies, including two medical officer positions in PHC Chogal, one vacant dental surgeon post in PHC Magam, one medical officer post in PHC Batpora, and two medical officer positions in PHC Natnussa.
The BMO Yaripora’s response outlined vacant posts, including gynaecologist, consultant Anesthesia, medical officers, and other crucial positions.
The BMO Bandipora disclosed that six medical officer positions and two health inspector positions are vacant within their jurisdiction.
This vacancy trend is indicative of the root causes behind the rising number of unnecessary referrals.
A senior health department official emphasised the urgent need to fortify rural healthcare, acknowledging the ongoing efforts with the establishment of new Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) and District hospitals.
However, the official stressed the importance of adequately staffing these healthcare institutions to meet local requirements.
Director Health Kashmir, in a recent conversation with Greater Kashmir, revealed that all vacancies have been referred to recruiting agencies such as the Service Selection Board (SSB) and the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Despite these measures, reports of unnecessary referrals persist, prompting the Directorate of Health Service Kashmir (DHSK) to issue a directive mandating night rounds by Medical Superintendents of District hospitals and Sub-District Hospitals. This directive, issued on the explicit instructions of the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, aims to curb the crisis of unwarranted referrals to tertiary care hospitals.