‘Conflict is one of the main sources of cancer in Kashmir’

‘Conflict is one of the main sources of cancer in Kashmir’

Photo: Zargar Zahoor

Prof Ashaq Hussain Naqshbandi, ex-Principal Government Medical College Srinagar and a founding member of the Cancer Society of Kashmir, speaks about the rise of cancers in Kashmir in a conversation with Aasif Sultan

Do you think healthcare is a priority in Kashmir?
No government has health and education as a priority. It was only Sheikh Abdullah who prioritised health and helped the medical fraternity in all his capacity. Having said that, even in a common Kashmiri household health is no priority. As they say they deteriorate their health while amassing fortune and then spent that fortune to restore their health. It is high time that we take necessary steps to enhance a healthy lifestyle.
What ails our healthcare system?
Shortage of manpower. We have dearth of medical professions throughout the length and breadth of the State. Unless we prioritise medical education and produce professionals to work here, we shall continue to suffer.
Many Kashmiri medical professions study here and then shift to Gulf countries for work. Would you call it brain drain, opportunism or grabbing opportunity?
It is a combination of all. We have to see how can we help our society. If our doctors go outside and then return with expertise to render a helping hand here then that is praiseworthy. In fact, we should move outside with this intention only. This profession will give you money and respect in abundance, all you have to do is to help the downtrodden.

People mostly say smoking and fat consumption is the main source of cancer here, but I would say it is the raging conflict in Kashmir that is the main source. What forces a youth and an adult to smoke? It is the stress. And where from the stress comes? It is the unending misery he feels and faces each day here. Two common cancers found in Kashmir are oesophagus cancer and stomach cancer. And both are related with smoking. It is a vicious circle that starts with stress and ends with cancer

What are the main sources of cancer in Kashmir?
People mostly say smoking and fat consumption is the main source of cancer here, but I would say it is the raging conflict in Kashmir that is the main source. What forces a youth and an adult to smoke? It is the stress. And where from the stress comes? It is the unending misery he feels and faces each day here.
Two common cancers found in Kashmir are oesophagus cancer and stomach cancer. And both are related with smoking. It is a vicious circle that starts with stress and ends with cancer.
What’s your advice in such a situation?
People need to de-stress themselves. They need to have faith that whatever is going to happen shall occur and hope need to be kept alive that all shall be normal in future. That is the only way we can escape from the vicious circle we are presently in.
How can common people help each other in such a scenario?
They need to produce more and more NGOs and help the downtrodden. In the ‘80s, we started Naqshbandiah Charitable Oncology Clinic. We provided free medicare to patients. Then it took the shape of Cancer Society of Kashmir (CSK). And the society has positively contributed to the CSK.
What shall be your advice for keeping a good health for people who have a sedentary lifestyle?
Whatever be your lifestyle and whichever profession you have chosen, do walk for at least half an hour. Fruit intake needs to be increased and reduce meat consumption.

–This brief interview appeared in Kashmir Narrator’s August issue. To subscribe to Narrator’s print edition, please mail here: KashmirNarrator@Gmail.com, or call at 7298102560

 

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