Kashmir leprosy Hospital

By Faisal Magray

Located on the bank of famous nageen lake  the lone leprosy hospital for the treatment of leprosy was founded by the British In 1882. The 14 huts built by the British over a century ago today are in dilapidated condition, crumbling away as each year passes with the outer walls defaced with perceptible cracks, even though this colony turned hospital is maintained by the Kashmir state government. The huts are split into three to five rooms with each room housing a family of anything from five to seven people. With just 64 rooms for a population of just over a hundred people overcrowding is added to their woes.

At present about 100 patients live with their families in the hospital from decades. The hospital is run by the government, however the patients live in the same mud house blocks which were built by the British.  More than hundred leper patients live in this Hospital along with their families since a decade. However the condition of the hospital is pathetic due to the lack of proper infra structure.
The doctors are too of the view that the nasty condition of their rooms and poor sanitation could further exacerbate the patient's lives. No serious attention has been paid so far towards the renovation of the existing Hospital. Ghulam Mohammad Dar, a leprosy patient said that, “the condition of my living room is not good as it made up of mud which creates lot of problems in summers. And also we don't have good bathrooms and sanitation.”

Bacteria causing leprosy are transmitted by air and invade a victim’s bloodstream; when it destroys nerve tissue, the body develops immunity to pain. Patients can get repeated injuries or have ulcers that go undetected for years or their muscles atrophy, doctors say. This results in amputated limbs and other disfiguration.

Despite tall claims, lepers continue to remain neglected  face many problems and lack proper medical facilities. Altaf Ahmad, a leper patient said, “It is very hard for a person with amputated hands and feet to do basic day to day activities. The Doctors, washer men, barbers are supposed to reach us, because of our pathetic condition for treatment and other needs. Instead I have to go to them. The scheme of things here never changed".

The patients are almost handicapped they cannot move easily, especially during the winter season.  Lal din, a leper said, " the attention needs to be paid by orthopeditians,  nurses, barbers and special assistance for better sanitation from Municipal authorities should be made available for the service of the lepers in the hospital.”