Ummid Assistant

IDB scholarship forms available at Bhopal's Companion School

IGNOU's preparatory course for students desiring higher education

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home Special Reports

Assam's boat clinics deliver health services - and hope

Wednesday July 11, 2012 08:19:35 PM, Azera Rahman, IANS

The boat clinic comes back to the shore after a day-camp to an island in the Nalbari district.

Nalbari (Assam): Amid pouring monsoon rain, men, women and children run alongside the torrential Brahmaputra, waving at people in white coats on a boat. This is their boat of hope - a floating clinic, equipped with basic medical facilities and manned by doctors and paramedics taking healthcare to people in far-flung island villages that are deprived of it.

"Come here! We have many patients; old and feeble, women and children!" said Rakibur Hussain, one of the island dwellers. But the clinic was on its way to another island close by, where a health camp had been organised.

Hussain was disappointed but not for long.

After a quick discussion, a paramedic on the boat clinic screamed back: "We will come back, pick up your patients, and take them to the health camp in Baleswar (the other island). Is that ok?"

The small crowd at the embankment cheered back.

For the nearly three million people on the 2,500 islands on the Brahmaputra, amongst Asia's largest rivers, the floating clinics are literally their lifeline.

With hospitals a far cry and communication made even worse during floods, the unique initiative of boat clinics by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (CNES) is a ray of hope for the most vulnerable communities of Assam living on the 'saporis' or islands of the Brahmaputra.

The journey of these 'ships of hope', as they are popularly known, began in 2005, with a single boat called Akha (or hope) in Dibrugarh district of upper Assam. The initiative got the support of the district health authorities.

The successful intervention in reaching out to the marginalised, rural communities got the attention and support of Unicef and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Assam, resulting in a public-private partnership (PPP) and the subsequent spread of the boat clinic programme to 13 districts of the state with 15 boats.

"We need innovative but simple approaches based on the knowledge of those who know best, the river dwellers and the host makers, because they can understand the river better than anyone else," said CNES founder Sanjoy Hazarika, who designed, developed and implemented the boat clinics before establishing the partnership with the NRHM.

"That's how the boat clinics started ... By listening to people's concerns, tapping their expertise, applying better technology and later, a partnership with the principal stakeholder... from small beginnings to an extraordinarily large impact in 13 districts, reaching over eight lakh persons in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra," he added.

In Baleswar, the tiny island near Nalbari, 70 km from Guwahati, Amina Begum recounted her experience at the boat clinic, as she waited in a queue to see the doctor in the health camp.

"Initially, there was some hesitation. The elders in the village felt that this was a temporary arrangement and there was no need to show excitement, since they will not return a second time. Moreover,there were reservations in getting the women checked by male doctors," Begum, who is pregnant with her second child, told IANS.

"But when we saw the dedication of the doctors and nurses, got the medicines for immediate treatment, and saw them return time and again, we knew that they really cared for us. Now we wait for the clinic eagerly," she added.

"The boat clinic is a blessing for us," added Sakina, another patient with a skin infection. "Going to the hospital is not easy from here. We have to pay and take a boat trip to the mainland. It becomes difficult for the elderly, the pregnant women to go, especially when the weather is harsh."

While its special focus is on women and children, and clinic visits are timed in accordance with the immunisation schedule, its ultimate aim is to take sustained healthcare to islands.

Bedanta Sarma and Minhazuddin Ahmed, the two young doctors in the team of 16 members including auxilliary nurse midwives (ANMs), laboratory technician and others in this district, said their job satisfaction was unparalleled.

"It's not just about treatment. We also shoulder the responsibility of educating and making the people aware, fighting superstitions,and finally, offering hope. Both of us (doctors) have returned to this job after having left it, and are here for nearly three years now," Ahmed told IANS.

Early marriage and family planning are two issues that the team has been educating the masses about. The boat clinics also have laboratories where blood tests can be done and pharmacies which give free medicines as prescribed by the doctor.

While the work has been effective, it is nevertheless very challenging for the health teams as sometimes at the risk of their own health and safety, Hazarika pointed out.

"For instance, the water level has to be at least three to four feet deep for the motorboat to move and there have been times when boats have got stuck in one of the river's channels and the team has had to go on foot for as much as 10 km to the villages," Dipankar Das, chief executive officer of CNES, told IANS.

"In monsoons, the floods again wreak havoc. Just last month, one of our boats with 12 team members had to be rescued by Indian Air Force helicopters, as they got stranded in the swelled up river while going on a mission," he added.

But come what may, these boats of hope continue to bring respite to the marginalised.



(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.rahman@gmail.com)





 




 

 

Home | Top of the Page

Comments

Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Comments powered by DISQUS

i

i

 

 

 

Top Stories

Court blocks Narayanan-Vajpayee letters on Gujarat riots

The Delhi High Court Wednesday set aside the Central Information Commission (CIC) order allowing disclosure of the correspondence between then president  

US House resolution asks Gujarat to restore religious freedom

Authorities in Gujarat protecting perpetrators of 2002 riots: HRW

 

  Most Read

Nitish likely to support Ansari for vice president

Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Nitish Kumar is likely to back Hamid Ansari for a second term as vice president if the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) declares his candidature, party  

Congress likely to re-nominate Hamid Ansari

BJP to field its own vice president candidate

Syndicate could turn tables on Pranab: Sangma

A "syndicate" could turn the tables on UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, his rival P.A. Sangma Wednesday said, recalling 1969 when a conscience vote enabled V.V. Giri to win although he was pitted against the official Congress candidate. On the Uttar Pradesh leg of his 'Garo Hills  

 

  News Pick

For Kashmir panchayats, an endless wait for powers

The Jammu and Kashmir government says it is gradually devolving powers to the grassroots level in the state, but the ground reality appears somewhat different. With an average voter participation of over 75 percent  

Khurshid's comments on Rahul are BJP fodder

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid's remarks Tuesday that a lack of ideological direction plagued the Congress and that Rahul Gandhi was performing only a cameo role triggered 

Punished for bedwetting girl yet to recover from shock

Traumatised and shocked, the 10-year-old girl who was allegedly made to drink her own urine in the Visva-Bharati campus as a punishment for bedwetting is finding it difficult to cope with the situation, her father said Tuesday.  

Be prepared for LS polls 'anytime in 2013', Mulayam to party

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav appears to have fast tracked his party's preparations for Lok Sabha polls by reportedly  

 

Picture of the Day

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students with the world's largest envelope they put on display on May 02, 2012. The envelope earned the premium Institution a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. AMU received a certificate in this regard on June 28, 2012.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RSS  |  Contact us

 

| Quick links

News

 

Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant

 

National

Science & Technology

RSS

Scholarships

About us

International

Health

Twitter

Government Schemes

Feedback

Regional

History

Facebook

Education

Register

Politics

Opinion

Newsletter

Contact us

Business

Career

Education

     

 

 

Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.