Srinagar: Holding a walking stick and folder filled with prescriptions, 65-year-old Ghulam Qadir was left disappointed on Friday morning. His hopes of consulting a doctor at Government Day Care Centre for senior citizens at Primary Health Care (PHC) Chanapora were dashed when he saw a large padlock at the gate of the facility.
Suffering from osteoporosis, Qadir of Nowgam reached the centre by hitchhiking with no public transport plying on the roads. However the centre has been shut since August 5.
“I have developed intense pain in the knees for the last few weeks. I tried massage and popped pain killers, but nothing seems to have worked. Today, I felt an immediate need to see a doctor. Unfortunately, the centre is closed. I am a poor man and cannot afford the expensive treatment at private clinics. Now I will have to go back and probably live with the pain till the centre opens,” Qadir said with a sigh.
Similarly, 80-year-old Abdul Rashid from Kralpora, who suffers from dementia and orthopaedic ailments, repeatedly asks his son Idrees about the facility.
“Dementia has faded his memory. He even forgets my name at times. His health has deteriorated over the last one week. He gets so stubborn sometimes that he refuses to have food or any medicine,” Idrees said in a sorrowful tone.
Restrictions imposed after the abrogation of Article 370 have affected every sector in the valley including the old age health centres.
“I work as a teacher at a local private school. Whatever little I had saved in July has been spent in buying father’s medicines. I would have taken him to a private clinic but I have not earned anything due to closure of schools since August 5. I am completely helpless,” said Idrees
A local chemist in the vicinity, wishing not to named, said the centre for old people has been closed since August 5.
“A lot of patients have visited since then. It is heartbreaking to see the elderly patients who struggle to come here despite restrictions and return without receiving any treatment,” he said
The facility started operating this year and it used to have OPD sessions on Mondays and Fridays. “It has been receiving a lot of patients suffering from multiple ailments including hypertension, cardiac diseases, respiratory tract infections, thyroid, gastrointestinal, neurological and orthopaedic diseases,” he said.
A staffer at Primary Health Center said: “We have hardly opened the daycare centre for elderly people since the blockade except for few Mondays when the restrictions were not that severe. Otherwise, it remains mostly closed.”