[Reader-list] The ill equipped hospital

arshad hamid peerzadaarshad at gmail.com
Wed Aug 23 12:40:41 IST 2006

The ill equipped hospital

Peerzada Arshad hamid

Depression has become a common malady in the valley afflicting everyone
cutting across gender, age and socio-economic class. Experts say that around
75 per cent of the population in Kashmir are suffering from psychiatric
disorders like stress and trauma and if problem persists, there is every
possibility that it can become a genetic disorder and get transmitted to
future generations.

Efforts by the doctors at Government Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases
cannot be ruled out for they have been fighting with chaos despite many odds
and handicaps.

Statistics reveal that valley's lone psychiatric hospital in Srinagar's
Kathi Darwaza locality is understaffed and lacks adequate infrastructure to
cope up with the burgeoning number of people with psychiatric problems.

Flicking the pages of history, one comes across that hospital was a part of
Central Jail and subsequently a Lunatic asylum before 1950. One of the
factors for the social stigma associated with the place.

It was taken by State Directorate of Health Services in late 1950 for
setting up of Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital. The bed strength of
the hospital at that time was 100. Despite sharp increase in psychiatric
diseases in the valley and to cater to the needs of growing population since
1950, the need to increase the bed strength of hospital has not been sensed.

As per norms, the hospital to cater to the rising demands should have in the
Clinical section at least two Professors, four Associate Professors, four
Assistant Professors, five lecturers, six registrars, two Clinical
Pathologists, two Physicians, one Anaesthetist and two Radiologists.

The Non-Clinical section needs 15 Psychiatric Nurses, five Paramedics, Two
Occupational Therapists, four Social Workers, five Wardens and 11 Class-IV
Contrary to this, the clinical staff recruited in early seventies is almost
the same at the moment.  There is no CT Scan or MRI facility or even the
facility for basic laboratory tests in the hospital.
The total budget of the hospital is rupees 1.92 crores per year, out of
which major chunk is being spent on the salaries of employees.

Government Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases is associated with Government
Medical College Srinagar and serves as latter's undergraduate teaching
department. In early eighties postgraduate training was also started in the

Two psychiatrists complete their post graduation ever year but no vacancies
are being created for them. In such a situation, they get forced to leave
Kashmir for Europe or other countries.

Successive governments have ignored this important sector. Against this
various international organisations are said to have offered the government
and Health Department in State to set up their units in Kashmir to cater to
increasing psychiatric disorders. The antics of government have reportedly
shied them away.

Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), a leading international NGO constructed
major portion of hospital, which got burned during early nineties. The
counselling centre opened by them inside hospital premises is first of its
kind and the hospital is dependent on it for counsellors.

Since government has not so far integrated mental health with general care,
separation of it is said to be the main hurdle for patients in visiting the
psychiatric hospital. People shy away to seek psychiatric treatment because
of the stigma attached to it.
Doctors say that there should be at least one psychiatric ward at SMHS and
SKIMS as they are in all the medical colleges in India like AIIMS, New Delhi
and PGI, Chandigarh. Doctors also argue for the availability of
psychiatrists in every District hospital of the valley.

WHO survey says that by 2020 Depression will be second most common disease
after heart diseases. WHO also has recommended the amalgamation of
psychiatry with general health services so that people won't shy away from
the treatment.

Due to the lack of any transitional homes, family care and halfway homes in
the valley most of the inmates at psychiatric hospital are lying there for
years. Some of the patients are there for last 20 years.

*Ends- - -


Peerzada Arshad Hamid

Baba mohalla Bijbehara
c/o Tak Trading Company Bijbehara
Jammu & Kashmir

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