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Ventilator crisis brews in Kashmir: Only 42 life saving machines for 4264 Covid cases

Winter capital has 77 respiratory machines for 859 patients

Srinagar:  Spike in COVID cases notwithstanding, Kashmir valley has three times fewer ventilators than Jammu

Data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor from Health and Medical Education Department revealed that Jammu and Kashmir has 78 high-end and 41 portable ventilators.

Figures reveal that Kashmir has only 19 high-end ventilators despite having 4264 patients, while  Jammu has 59 respiratory machines for 859 cases. 

Further, there are around 23 portable ventilators in Kashmir, while Jammu has 18.

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Atal Dullo told The Kashmir Monitor that given the rise in cases, the department has taken pre-emptive action and procured 700 new ventilators.

“Out of which 70 percent will be allotted to Kashmir. Some ventilators have already been supplied to hospitals in Anantnag, Baramulla, and Srinagar but are pending installation. It will be done soon,” he said.

A ventilator, also known as a respirator or breathing machine, is a medical device that provides a patient with oxygen when they are unable to breathe on their own. The ventilator gently pushes air into the lungs and allows it to come back out like the lungs would typically do when they are able.

In most severe cases, coronavirus can cause pneumonia, a lung infection that leads to inflammation, lung damage, and possibly death. Doctors have to use ventilators to help patients breathe and give their bodies more time to fight the infection.

However, a senior resident at SMHS said no new ventilator has been added to the tertiary care hospital since the pandemic broke out.

“On top of that, we have an increasing number of patients with bilateral pneumonia. Some of them immediately need to be put on high oxygen flow if their condition worsens. The need of the hour is the augmentation of the COVID machinery and equipment in the health institutions,” he said.

Professor of Surgery GMC, Srinagar, Dr. Iqbal Saleem pointed out that there are very few ventilators in hospitals.

“Moreover, it is not only the machine that is required but also the person who operates them. There is a dearth of both machines and the trained personnel,” he said.