Healers of Health Divide

During the floods in Chennai in 2015, a tweet by a concerned netizen described ground reality of those days. “Should we simply rent a boat for a week?” It was a sight to witness boats rescuing people stranded in the inundated city. But even in the 21st century, there are many places in India where boats are the only means of connectivity. The Brahmaputra that flows over 891 km through Assam has over 2.5 million people living on 2,500 islands. For centuries, the river has been a source of life and the cause of death for the people there. In the 2017 floods, the death toll stood at 112, and 33 lakh people were affected across 25 districts.

The availability of doctors in India stands at 0.7 per 1,000 people. Natives of these islands that shift continuously over the braiding river—chars or saporis as they are locally called—think that they need doctors only during floods. Despite the geographical challenges, writer-journalist Sanjoy Hazarika set afloat the first boat clinic ‘AKHA’—the ship of hope in a valley of floods, in May 2005. The wooden boat—65-foot in length and 15-foot in width—with space for an OPD, laboratory, cabins for doctors and nurses, kitchen, toilets, water supply, and a generator set was completed after receiving award money of $20,000 from the World Bank’s India Marketplace in 2004....Read more


Source web page:New Indian Express


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