Infant Deaths in Kashmir Equivalent to Genocide: Kashmiri Hindu Doctor

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Srinagar, May 23: Toeing the line of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, the leading oncologist of India Sumeer Kaul, a Kashmiri Hindu, has termed the death of over 380 infants in a children hospital in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered as equivalent to genocide

“For me, it is the equivalent of a genocide. In 2011, 895 infants are reported to have died in hospitals in Srinagar. In 2012, the figure has worsened and 390 infants have died in the last four months,” Kaul told an Indian newspaper, Asian Age.

He said Kashmir is acutely short of ventilators. “The question to be asked is why the government has not purchased ventilators, especially when the mortality rate has been showing a sharp upward curve.”

“Take the example of Lalded Hospital (maternity hospital) in Srinagar where large numbers of deliveries are taking place every day. For every 100 births, it is common knowledge that at least two babies will need to be kept in a ventilator and yet this hospital and others failed to invest in them,” he said.

Kaul said the other problem is that large quantities of spurious drugs are being offloaded in Kashmir. “The medical fraternity is aware of it. Doctors in Kashmir had often warned that 60 per cent of the drugs being sold in the region are spurious. Then why has no action been taken so far on such a serious matter?

He said while the population of Kashmir has gone up to 1.1 crore, there has been no upgradation of hospitals in the last 25 years. “The Kashmir also is not known to have good nursing homes. The majority are very small and can hardly cater to the needs of the growing population,” he said.

“Kashmiris suffer from a wide range of other health-related problems – cancer, TB, maternal deaths and rising drug use. They also suffer from a range of psychiatric disorders, but this is hardly the time to touch on any of these issues,” he said.

Kaul said the Kashmir government needs to ensure strict monitoring of all hospitals so that these infant deaths are brought down immediately.

It is in place to mention here that the infant deaths in the children hospital has led to public outry, forcing the government to replace Medical Superintendent of the hospital and take some other measures.

The hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani while reacting to the infant deaths termed it as genocide of Kashmiris. He has asked Chief Minister of the region to resign on moral grounds.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.