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&K health infrastructure needs urgent revival Dr Harsh Vardhan reviews extent of damage; assures Central support

The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has assured the Jammu and Kashmir government of central support in reconstructing the damage to the health infrastructure of the state.

On his second visit to flood-hit Srinagar in nine days, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Army and civilian doctors both from J&K and Delhi, we have been able to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. This is a rare achievement for which I thank the medical and paramedical personnel who have given their all for the people of Srinagar.”

Dr Harsh Vardhan visited Barzullah Bone and Joints Hospital, the Sri Maharajah Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, the GB Pant Children’s Hospital, the Skims Medical College Hospital (attached to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medicine) and LallaDed Hospital for Gynaecology, all in Srinagar.

“Expect Barzullah, the ground floor-level facilities in the other four places have been destroyed by the flood waters. Vital departments like emergency, diagnostics, blood banks, etc. have to be rebuilt from scratch. In Skims, the radiology, ophthalmology, blood banks and entire OPD are gone. Similar destruction is visible in the other hospitals and needs 100 per cent rebuilding,” he said.

Barzullah, which happened to be located on high ground, got away. It is now accommodating about 50 patients at present from the neighbouring LalDed Hospital for Gynaecology. Skeletal services have been opened in most of the hospitals on the upper floors.

“In most places I saw doctors themselves working on cleaning up the mess left by the receding flood waters. Local police constables were helping them everywhere. I was touched by the spirit of camaraderie evident in Srinagar in the post-floods scenario,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

The Minister was accompanied by Mr TajMohiuddin, Minister for Health Education, Mr GunzaffarHussain, Health Secretary, Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, and other senior officials of the central and state governments and health directorates.

Till now, the Union Health Ministry has supplied 150 metric tonnes of medicines, 35 lakh chlorine tablets, 50,000 IV fluids (DNS), 50,000 Dextrose 5% fluid, 50,000 Ringer Lactate, 50,000 normal saline and 2,70,000 Oral Rehydration Solution sachets.

“The presence of doctors from Delhi Medical Association and Indian Medical Association has been appreciated by the people. The Health Minister of the state has conveyed this to me personally,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

The Minister announced said that he has asked two senior doctors from Delhi, Dr K.T. Bhowmick, Additional Medical Superintendent of Sardurjung Hospital, and Dr Shakti Gupta, Medical Superintendent of Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, have been entrusted with the task of assessing the extent of the aggregate damage to medical infrastructure in Srinagar. They will be presenting their report tomorrow.

Dr S. Venkatesh, National Programme Officer of the Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme, who had been stationed in Srinagar by the Union Health Ministry, has reported that chlorine tablets have been supplied in sufficient quantity to people in the camps in advance. That, together with continuous surveillance by central teams of public health specialists, led to total control of the situation.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “I am satisfied that a crucial stage in disaster management is now over but there is no scope for lowering the guard against the possibility of infectious diseases breaking out.”