Srinagar: Sahiba, 70, of frontier district Kupwara in north Indian Kashmir was elated on hearing that a medical camp was being held in her village, but her joy turned tragic as she lost her eyesight two days after the cataract surgery.
Five months long unrest in Indian Kashmir has devastated many homes, families have lost their bread winners, and hundreds have been rendered handicapped, eviscerated.
Sahiba is not alone who lost her eyesight but six other persons have met the same fate while one of them has been eviscerated at SMHS hospital in summer capital after they were admitted in a City hospital.
It was after a team of doctors from the Health Department operated upon them in a medical camp in Kupwara a fortnight back that seven persons lost their eyesight. Sahiba wife of Ahmadullah Rather of Reshi Gund Kupwara attended the free eye examination at Cataract Surgery Camp in the Sub-District Hospital Kupwara.
She was operated upon by the doctors at the camp and was asked to remain there for examination and it was during next day that she developed pain in the left eye.
“My mother along with others was operated upon by the doctors at the camp. She lost the eyesight of her left eye completely. And to save her right eye, doctors are going to eviscerate it,” said Sahiba’s son Bashir Ahmad at SMHS hospital.
He accused the doctors carrying out surgeries at the Kupwara camp of negligence. “They should know that eye is the vital organ in the body. Atleast at this age her eyes should have proper eyesight,” he said.
“The Hospital administration at Kupwara should immediately recall all the 250 patents operated by the mobile unit and carry out check-up of each of them to check further spread of the infection and prevent further damage to the eyes of the operated patients,” he urged.
The Health Department on October 7 under order No: DHSK/SCH/COB/04/679-82 organized a Cataract Surgery Camp in the Sub-District Hospital Kupwara from October 11-16. In its order Dr Wahab of Handwara hospital was assigned to supervise the Mobile Surgical cum Ophthalmic Unit consisting of three doctors Dr Firdousa, Dr Asmat and Dr Seema.
The other patients admitted to ward 7 and 8 of SHMS hospital for acute infection have been identified as Ali Mohammad Sheikh of Laderwan Kupwara, Sara Begum wife of Ali Mohammad Mir of Hatmullah Kupwara, Zoona Begum wife of Habibullah Dar of Kunanaposhpara, Mohammad Akbar Lone of Laderwan, Ghulam Mohammad Teli of Darial Wilgam, Kupwara and Ghulam Rasool Shah of Gugloosa Kupwara, all aged between 50 and 60 years.
Aijaz Ahmad, who accompanied his father Ali Mohammad Sheikh to SMHS said, “The Mobile Unit operated about 250 patients for cataract. After being discharged, all the patients were asked by doctors to report in the hospital on October 25 but before that most of those operated have developed severe pain.”
He said the doctors prescribed Paracetamol and other pain killers besides two eye-drops to the patients. “Despite taking these medicines for several days, the pain in the left eye of my father did not subside. With no improvement in his condition, I rushed him to SMHS, where doctors said he has developed severe infection,” he said.
The in-charge doctors at the Ophthalmology wards 7 and 8 at SHMS Hospital told Agence India Press, “We are treating them for both bacterial and fungal infections. Unfortunately, one patient Ali Mohammad has completely lost his eye to infection. It is quite possible that these patients might have developed the infection through non-sterile surgical equipment or by the erratic or infectious drips used by the Mobile Unit at Kupwara.”
The chief medical officer Kupwara Dr Ghulam Nabi said, “The Operations were done by the team of doctors constituted by Directorate of Health and we just assisted them,” he said. He said after three days of the commencement of the camp four patients came to him and complained of the infection and shooting pain in eyes. “After preliminary investigation we referred those four patients to SMHS hospital, Srinagar,” he said.
Director Health Dr Mohammad Amin Wani said, “The doctors have done a commendable job as this was a long pending demand of the rural people from Kupwara. The mobile unit performed some 250 cataract surgeries at Kupwara.” After we reported some infection case, a committee was constituted on Friday to investigate whether there was case of any negligence by the doctors, he said. “The committee will report to me in ten days,” he said.
Since June 11 the Kashmir hospitals remained swallowed with the Police and paramilitary forces victims. Besides 111 deaths reported many family members of the affected families have gone under medication to come out of the mental trauma.
The Kashmir valley has been on boil since June 11 after a teenager Tufail Mutoo was killed at the hands of state forces. The State government has failed to normalize the situation and the incessant curfews imposed by the authorities have added fuel to the fire.
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