SRINAGAR: Patients in various areas of Kashmir have been struggling for medical attention as all the efforts and attention of doctors and paramedics is focussed on COVID-19 infected persons and suspects.

The situation has become particularly difficult for pregnant women who are not being given the required attention by the medics. In many instances that have been reported in the media, pregnant women have lost their lives due to alleged negligence of doctors.

Pertinently, most of the expecting women who have died in the Valley, after the outbreak of COVID-19, have tested negative for the infectious disease.

Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Thamuna village in Pulwama, recently lost her wife after she gave birth to a baby. He alleges that her wife wasn’t treated well by the doctors.

“My wife was doing fine after she delivered the baby. More than 24 hours had passed and she could go to washroom on her own. However, the insensitive behaviour of doctors cost me heavily,” he says.

He further adds, “After my wife complained of shortness of breath, the doctors immediately declared her coronavirus positive, even without waiting for test results. The worst thing is they told this in her presence, which contributed to the deterioration of her condition.”

Sajad Ahmad Pala (name changed), another man from the south Kashmir district has the same complaint. He accuses the doctors of ‘murdering’ medical ethics. “I visited SDH Rajpora with my expecting wife but the doctors there referred her to Lal Ded Hospital Srinagar instead of a hospital (designated for pregnant women) in Pulwama. We had to go through a lot of hardships amid the lockdown to reach Srinagar,” he said.

He added, “Doctors have lost all compassion towards patients after the outbreak of COVID-19. They don’t think for a moment as to how the patient could be shifted to Srinagar when the same facilities are available in our own district and the patient is in a critical state.”

Ishfaq Ahmad from Malpora Tahab also saw her wife die “due to medical negligence of doctors.” He complains, “My wife Nargis Akhter, who was aged 25 years, died only because the doctors didn’t know when to refer her. When they finally did, it was too late.”

It is not just that there have been complaints of unnecessary referrals, but people also complain of unfriendliness on part of the doctors, who have, otherwise, been hailed as COVID warriors.

An attendant of a patient in a private Nursing Home in Anantnag district alleged that the patients are not treated well. “Instead, the patients are being looked as suspects of Coronavirus. My cousin sister was attended to by a doctor but he maintained a distance of almost ten feet. It was nothing less than an insult,” he alleges.

As per a report of Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK), patients are not treated with dignity and respect in the Valley hospitals which results in medical conflicts.

Inappropriate behaviour from medical personnel, the report divulged, has created mistrust among people that precipitates medical disputes leading to patient resentment towards healthcare providers. “Any treatment can be undone in just a few moments by doctors’ wrong attitude,” it had stated.

In the days after the coronavirus became a reality in the Valley, most of the staff including doctors have been assigned COVID-19 related duties. As a consequence, doctors are not always available at the community health centres and primary health centres. People, especially those from rural areas, are facing logistical inconvenience due to the travel restrictions.

The lockdown induced by the coronavirus was already causing hardships to patients, but the lack of medical ethics on part of the doctors has been equally damaging. The COVID-19 is a reality but mere prescriptions aren’t enough for the patients, including COVID-19 positive ones, to recover. Sometimes, it just takes a few words of compassion and empathy to boost an ill body towards recovery.

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