J & K: Prior approval for oxygen supply, gag order on doctors speaking to media

The orders have evoked criticism from civil society who have been working on getting oxygen supply for covid patients


The Jammu and Kashmir administration has barred doctors dealing with COVID-19 patients from interacting with the media to avoid misinformation and contradictory messages. in the rising surge of cases the media is seen reporting from hospitals, asking doctors and other personnel on status of oxygen and other facilities, bringing reality to the front so people are informed.

“All chief medical officers, medical superintendents, block medical officers of the Kashmir division are enjoined upon to issue instructions to the staff to desist from media interactions, as it has been seen that contradictory and confusing messages are being circulated, which misinforms the public and creates unnecessary and avoidable panic,” the order by Dr. Mushtaq Rather, Director, Health Services reads. It warns that disciplinary action will be taken those who act in contravention to these orders.

The number of cases in the UT is on the rise as it is currently has about 39,628 positive cases with about 50 deaths daily.

Oxygen supply

Further, the administration has taken charge of all private oxygen-generating facilities in Srinagar and is regulating supply to NGOs, reported The Hindu. Muhammad Aijaz, Chairman, District Disaster Management Authority, directed all the oxygen manufacturing units within Srinagar “to supply oxygen refills only to the designated hospitals and clinics”. He said this was done to curb black marketing of medical oxygen.

He said that proper mechanism will ensure regular supply however the move was criticised by NGOs fearing the action will impact their work of helping out covid patients in need.  As per the order, supplies to NGOs and private persons will be made only after approval from District Magistrate Srinagar.

In the face of a crisis where civil society is on the ground in aid of people looking for medical facilities and essential drugs as well as oxygen supply, this move will certainly cripple such efforts and leave people in a lurch. When relief is not received from government channels, people usually turn to civil society which finds out a way to help them however, such need of prior approval is only an impediment when lives are at stake.


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