The policymakers in J&K must help the administration to set up a proposal and give our women the rights they deserve during and after childbirth, Sheikh Umar Ahmad writes.

Healthcare in Jammu and Kashmir is dying a slow death due to various problems in terms of service allocation and dissemination at grassroots level. These problems are a result of administrative mismanagement with political underpinnings at various levels. Time and again, the crippling state of healthcare becomes an open debate regarding various hurdles the sector faces en masse, sometimes creating an atmosphere of hate. Notwithstanding all these issues, healthcare in the valley is in shambles both in terms of essence as well as security.


Some days ago, I met a girl (name withheld), who is working as a junior staff nurse at maternity hospital Anantnag. She talked to me in detail about the sense of insecurity people are feeling at the hospital in wake of insulting attitude of the hospital management. It was very disheartening to hear from one of hospital staff that there are no provisions for Islamic way of childbirth system in J&K hospitals and every time any women is brought for delivery, there is an unclear distinction between opposite sexes present in the ward and labour rooms.


While there should be isolated facilities for these medical emergencies for women in health centres, yet everything happens in open, wrongly termed as closed and designated places. Even the sweepers, attendants, consultants, assistants and locals present in the immediate vicinity share the same space whenever any women are going to give birth to a baby.


A newborn’s health and survival are closely linked to care the mother receives before and during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Throughout the continuum of care, the period with the highest risk of death and disability for both mothers and new-borns is labour, birth and the first few hours after birth.


Complications and lack of care at this crucial time have consequences for mothers and babies. The ability of families and communities to recognise and access care quickly in case of an emergency determines the survival and health of both mother and baby. For some obstetric complications, particularly haemorrhage, the window of opportunity to respond and save the life of the mother may be measured in hours. For the baby, either in utero or just born, death can come even more quickly. Any delay may have fatal consequences.


These deadly delays in recognising problems and deciding to seek care, delay in transportation to reach appropriate care and delay in terms of receiving appropriate care at the health facility contribute substantially to the survival of both mothers and newborns in maternity healthcare systems. These factors are not taken due care of and in turn, the victims suffer.


There have occurred a number of incidents in past when strictly religious persons refused to admit their wives to these hospitals declaring that the conditions prevailing in these health institutions are disgraceful.


Ours is a Muslim-dominated state and we have to keep every system in tandem with the religious obligations, irrespective of mutual consent. Whether it be a public or private hospital, the system in place should be in consonance with the Islamic fundamentals.


Our state healthcare dispensers are little caring little about the security and collective rights of women; whether it be political, social or medical as mentioned. We must come forward and help administration at the helm of affairs to set up a proposal and give our women the rights they deserve and stop politicising our institutions of great importance.


The author is PG in Biotechnology and is currently working at CSIR  – IIIM Jammu as Research Fellow. Drop him a line at



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