For the past two weeks, Mohamad Shafi has been at the bedside of his 13-year-old son Rafi, who has been admitted to the nephrology ward of a state-run hospital in Indian-occupied Kashnir’s main city of Srinagar.
Rafi suffers from a chronic kidney ailment and needs dialysis every 15 days, a medical procedure that cannot be done at his village in Tangdar area of Kupwara.
Kupwara is close to the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir territory between India and Pakistan.
“We can’t go anywhere for now. My son needs medical care which isn’t available in Tangdar. So we are planning to stay at the hospital until the situation improves,” Shafi said.
The military lockdown and communications blackout imposed by the Indian government following the revocation of the region’s autonomy last month has crippled life in the Muslim-majority Kashmir region.
The unprecedented siege, which entered its second month on Thursday, has severely affected patients in need of urgent medical attention and better facilities.
Thousands of patients scrambling for medicines, doctors unable to work due to blackout and hospitals running out of resources.
Meanwhile, patients are supposed to buy the medicine needed for dialysis from outside the hospital. Amid the lockdown, the medicine is not always available at the nearby pharmacies.
A medical staff member at SKIMS hospital, who did not want to be identified, told that many patients at the hospital have run out of money to buy the critical medicines.
“We don’t provide them any medicines. They have to buy them from retail stores outside the hospital and many of them come from far-flung areas,” he said.