Can we have a medical
treatment in Kashmir like we have in Europe?
I am back with my readers after a gap of about two months and half. I travelled in Europe for eight weeks and also spent four days with my daughter in Dubai. I was unwell and my sugar level had increased. Medicines prescribed by European doctors became ineffective. I had to seek permission of the Sessions Court in Srinagar for going abroad for treatment because I cannot go out of India without court permission. I was allowed eight weeks of absence abroad.
Readers might ask why I make my sickness a subject for this article. Actually I want to narrate for our readers the difference between European and Indian systems of treatment. Cleanliness is the first problem with our hospitals. They stink like hell. Toilets are obnoxious stinking holes; water pipes are invariably broken and leaking, and if not broken, they are dry. Bedding, mattresses, sheets and pillows all are a plethora of dirt and filth. Patients needing even minor medication like headache pills, glucose and injections, have to buy these from market. When complaints are lodged with the doctors the reply is that the government does not supply them.
We find private medical clinics flourishing in Kashmir. They abound in streets wherever you go. Pharmacies like semi-hospital dispensaries are to be seen all around. These vendors loot the helpless patients. Most of these medicine shops sell spurious medicines. It is said that our State is the biggest market of spurious drugs.
Keeping this in mind, when I compare how I am being treated in Europe I can say that it is only a dream. In European countries there is the insurance system for medical treatment. People have to deposit a monthly amount in accordance with their income. Minimum insurance is 110 Euros, which is approximately eight thousand rupees. If one’s income is less, one receives 70 per cent of insurance fee from the government. With this insurance, a man has not to worry about his treatment. A medical centre is created in the locality where such a man lives; the centre caters to a population of 20 to 25 thousand souls. 8 to 10 family doctors are deputed in each centre. There are separate doctors for ENT and Physio- therapy and also for blood, urine and other tests. On falling sick, a person goes to family doctor. If a person has bad cold the doctor will suggest Parestamol and advise him to take rest. Doctors avoid giving antibiotics to children as long as possible. If the family doctor feels necessary, he can refer his patient to the specialists.
Since my sugar level was high, my family doctor prescribed medicines but also referred me to the specialist by fixing my appointment with him on the internet by sending him an email. He also contacted the Cardiologist and sought my appointment with him. He has been treating me for last one decade or more. Three days later, I got the appointment letter by post from both the doctors. Thus I went to Amsterdam Medical Centre on two different dates for treatment. This is among the largest hospitals of Europe. Diabetes specialist, a lady doctor along with her assistant, conducted my investigation and filled forms. She subjected me to close inspection of all my body including nails, and then sent me for urgent USG. I had to come next day morning without eating for the second test. After the tests were conducted, I was again called for appointment with diabetes doctor. The Diabetes nurse gave me full instructions about the disease. For the first time I came to know that despite diabetes I could eat three hundred grams of meat in a week and live a normal life. About eating I was advised to eat according to my taste but only less in quantity. I was told that it would be better to avoid eating rice. She said even if I eat ten times a day but in small quantities, it would not do harm.
Many patients are scared of insulin. I also avoided insulin for a long time. But she told me that dehydration means loss of water and glucose in the body. When there is loss of blood, glucose and blood are injected into the body. In the same way since in sugar blood does not create insulin cells therefore insulin is to be injected. Diabetes immediately affects eyesight and then liver and kidneys are also affected. During my four appointments with her, she thoroughly explained to me the function of insulin. She almost made me a doctor with knowledge of insulin. She directed me to use two types of insulin four times a day and advised me to check sugar level four times a day and maintain the record.
Thereafter the physician gave me Accu Check Aviva for checking sugar for six months plus insulin and medicines for six months. She gave me a packet with fifty strips for testing blood. The test packet costs around 2300 rupees in India. I was given 20 test packets which would cost about forty-six thousand rupees in India. Two types of insulin that were given to me cost nearly 1.5 lac rupees. Had I to do all this testing and medication and fees here in India, it would have cost me nearly ten lakh rupees. I was also given custom clearance form along with medicines with the signature and seal of the doctor. It has to be noted that you may have the medicines of any weight but if you have the prescription of the doctor and custom clearance form, then the airlines do not charge for the weight.
I consulted the world renowned heart specialist Dr. Winter. He checked me and also did some necessary tests and gave me date of 28 August 2012 for enjogrphy and other tests. I would like to make a mention of a miraculous happening. God Almighty has been gracious to me. Left artery of my heart is blocked and only surgery can set it right. God has created small veins that continuously carry blood to the heart. I had to take aspirin to keep my blood thin. I had gone through heart test in the US in 1998. My faith in God’s grace became solid when I was told there is just one out of millions of people who has the smaller veins carrying blood.
All I want to say is that how can a poor man exist here in this country? He is forced to take fake medicine. A doctor is considered a symbol of saving human life but here in this country he is taking his profession as a business. He prefers to do practice in a private clinic instead of serving the patients in the hospital. The government is not prepared to invest in health services. Most of the patients take letters from doctors and beg for financial assistance to meet the expenses of treatment. One who does not beg must either spend for himself or his wards from his savings or sell his house and property to meet the expenses.
We, the Muslims regrettably have not created such institutions as would take care of weaker sections of society. Here we must have insurance system in any case and those will less income should receive support from the government. Small medical centres should be there for a locality with a population of 20 to 25 thousand. All basic medical facilities should be available in these centres. We are unfortunate in the sense that if an accident happens in a village or on the highway, the victim is to be removed to Srinagar or Jammu hospital. An emergency hospital was opened in Qazigund but despite that patients were brought for admission in hospitals in Srinagar because there were no doctors and staff available in Qazigund.
We are careless about our womenfolk though we understand their role in keeping human race in tact. In LD hospital we find more rats and cats than medical attendants. In Holland a hospital is named “Our dear women”. Its branches are to be found in every small or big town in that country. Invariably lady doctors are deployed in them. A hospital is in no way lesser than a five star hotel in terms of bedding, cleanliness, eating stuff etc.
I would like to ask whether we should not learn the good things in western system and own them. On my return I halted in Dubai for four days. I had been there 19 years ago and at that time on Sultan Zaidi bin Nehan highway there were only two buildings. But today in terms of buildings, roads, medical facilities, hotels, shopping complexes and entertainment it is a developed place. In UAE more than 90 per cent workers are from foreign countries. I shall write on economic and other conditions of Dubai in my next write up. But once one is outside Kashmir, one is pained to note that in the areas of health service, thought process, trade and commerce, politics, education etc. we are just in 12th century.
This article was published in Daily 'Greater Kashmir' on 16th December 2011.