Dr in Srinagar sit-in demanded the immediate lifting in the restrictions

Speaking to reporters before being whisked away by the police, he said the patients are unable to relocate to hospitals due to restrictions. “They can’t buy medicines either because of the cash crunch,” he said.

The patients in Kashmir are suffering “enormously due to restrictions and communication blockade which entered their 22nd day on Monday, claimed a doctor who staged a sit-in at Mushtaq Press Enclave, a media hub of Srinagar.

Dr Omar Saleem Akhter, a consultant — urologist posted at a government-run hospital in Srinagar, came on a bicycle and sat on the road at the Press Enclave, carrying a placard which read “This is not a protest…this is a request. Patients are suffering, health insurance schemes are defunct. Dialysis sessions are being cut down, cancer patients are not coming for treatment. Please, restore landline and internet connectivity to hospitals and medical establishments in J&K. This is a HUMANITARIAN request.”

Speaking to reporters before being whisked away by the police, he said the patients are unable to relocate to hospitals due to restrictions. “They can’t buy medicines either because of the cash crunch,” he said.

He added, “Most importantly, there are about 1.5 million patients who are registered under Ayushman Bharat. We’re Number 1 state in terms of being beneficiary of this scheme. None of those beneficiaries is able to come and claim benefits under this scheme because there is no internet connectivity.”

He said that he had invited some other doctors and other members of medical fraternity also to join him at dharna “but it seems they decided not to come.”

Dr Omar, son of veteran oncologist Dr Shaad Saleem, said there are many other health insurance schemes for people who are working in the textile industry such as labourers. But they are not able to avail of these schemes because there is no excess to the internet.

He said that there are many hospitals in the Valley which are registered with the National Cancer Grid (NCG) and various tumour boards. “But we are not able to access the NCG or these boards.

There are many research projects under process in the state which to are suffering due to the communication blockade. We’re not able to access the journals for up-to-date information regarding the treatment of patients,” he said.

He added, “My request…it is not a protest, it is a request…that if possible landline and internet facilities to all hospitals and clinical establishments should be restored as soon as possible for the benefit of patients.” – TAA

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