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Odisha doctor walks across hill, wades through river to help woman in labour

Dr Yagnadatta Rath’s actions are the latest in a series of extraordinary services by young doctors reported from across the state.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2018 08:25 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Odisha doctor,Odisha health,Healthcare
Dr Yagnadatta Rath, who did his MBBS in 2012, said he was really worried when he heard Raita was travelling all the way from Balam.(HT Photo)

A trudge up a hill and a wade across a river is what it took for Dr Yagnadatta Rath to reach tribal woman Sitadadu Raita who went into labour while on the way to hospital on foot in Odisha’s Kandhamal district on Sunday.

By the time Rath covered more than 1.5km on foot to reach Raita, 23, she had delivered a girl, but her placenta had not come out. She was a first-time mother and Rath did what was required for the safety of the Kutia Kondh tribal and her child.

The young doctor’s actions have made him a poster boy for Odisha’s healthcare system, which came in for widespread criticism in 2016, when visuals of tribal farmer Dana Majhi walking with his wife’s corpse on his shoulders played endlessly across media platforms.

Rath, 29, works as an ad hoc doctor at Tumudibandha community health centre in Kandhamal, where Maoists have pockets of influence among the tribal populace.

Raita’s village, Balam, though only about 7km away from the health centre, is nearly inaccessible. A large part of the route can be covered only on foot through the hill and the meandering river, which has to be crossed seven times.

On Sunday, Raita started walking for the Tumudibandha health centre with her husband and family members, but could not carry on after a point. Her husband left her inside a forest with the relatives and raced to the house of Tumudibandha block development officer (BDO) for help.

When the BDO sounded out the health centre, Rath set out for the forest in an ambulance. The ambulance stopped after covering 4km. The rest of the way had to be covered on foot.

“When I reached the spot, the woman had delivered a girl, but her placenta had not come out. Normally, there is a lot of bleeding at this stage. Luckily, nothing of that sort had happened,” said Rath. “I asked the men to move away a little so that I could give her a little privacy. The baby weighed around 2.1 kg.”

Dr Yagnadatta Rath set out for the forest in an ambulance. The ambulance stopped after covering 4km. The rest of the way had to be covered on foot. (HT Photo)

Raita and her baby were taken to the ambulance and then to health centre, where they are under observation. “It was her first delivery and she was scared about her child’s well-being. Both are safe. They will be discharged on Friday,” said Rath.

The young doctor, who did his MBBS from Bhubaneswar’s Institute of Medical Science and SUM Hospital in 2012, said he was really worried when he heard Raita was travelling all the way from Balam.

“I had last been to that village a few years ago with a colleague for immunisation. I was worried how she would cross the river,” said Rath, whose wife is also a doctor at Tumudibandha.

His prompt action has come in for praise. Netra Manseth, a social worker in Tumudibandha, said, “He is an inspiration for doctors in our district.”

The state health and family welfare department commended Rath for his dedication. “We are proud of such role models in the department,” the department stated in a Facebook post.

Rath’s actions are the latest in a series of extraordinary services by young doctors reported from across the state.

In October last year, Dr Omkar Hota, working in Maoist violence-affected Malkangiri district, carried a tribal woman who was bleeding after childbirth for 10km on a cot.

Hota walked for three hours through forested terrain to take the woman to hospital. His work prompted the Odisha government to institute an award for doctors and other employees providing selfless service to people.

In November last year, Dr Sankar Ramchandani, another young doctor working at a community health centre in western Odisha’s Bargarh district, carried a filaria patient lying by the road in his personal vehicle to hospital.

In May last year, three doctors in Nabarangpur district headquarters hospital donated blood to save the life of a tribal woman shortly after she gave birth.

First Published: Mar 30, 2018 07:49 IST