A government release has stated that Kashmir has seen around 7 lakh patients visit the out-patient department (OPD) of various hospitals in the month of August. However, the Jammu and Kashmir information department had put the number of OPD visits at ‘district hospitals’ in Kashmir at 2.5 lakh.
Even if the 7 lakh figure is taken, the official number conveys almost little. Seen in relation to figures for hospital usage for previous years, the August statistic is low and has appeared to be a reflection not of a surprising and sudden improvement in healthcare in Kashmir but of the ongoing lockdown in the region.
Last month, the Union government via parliament has revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and has divided the state into two Union territories. The Centre also deployed more troops, put in place restrictions on the movement of people, and had shut down all communication channels including the internet. In its fourth week, the lockdown has also heavily affected medical services and the access to health facilities.
In 2017-2018, rural and urban parts of Jammu and Kashmir has seen 2.39 crore people using OPD facilities, around 20 lakh people a month. Though the figure is for the whole of J&K while the administration’s latest claims are for Kashmir alone, applying Kashmir’s share of the undivided state’s population suggests the OPD visits figure for 2017-18 in Kashmir was 11 lakh, considerably higher than the 7 lakh officially claimed for August.