With a 12-year-old patient on sling, Odisha doctor walks 5 km through a forest and hill
In a State where abysmal healthcare systems make news every other day, a 52-year-old doctor in Maoist-affected Malkangiri district of Odisha has gone beyond the call of duty and done what doctors rarely do.
On Monday, Shakti Prasad Mishra, a 52-year-old doctor working in a sub-centre-- the lowest rung of government healthcare system-- in Khairput block of Malkangiri district, carried a 12-year-old orphaned boy in a sling and walked for 5 km in hilly and forested terrains so that he could be taken to the health centre.
Kamulu Kirshani, a 12-year-old tribal boy of Nuaguda village was suffering from fever over last few days. But with no communication facilities available between his village and the nearest primary health centre, all that the boy and his elder sister could do, was pray.
On Monday a villager from Nuaguda gave Mishra a SoS call to save the boy. Though Nauguda doesn’t come under the area served by Mishra’s health centre, he decided to pick up the boy in the centre’s ambulance. After driving a few kilometers they came through a non-motorable terrain and had to walk for 5 km through a forest, nullah and hill to reach the village, according to the ambulance driver named Govind.
As nobody in the village of mere 10 households was ready to help carry the sick boy to the ambulance, the doctor and the driver put him in a sling and began their arduous two-hour long walk through the same terrain.
“It is very difficult for anyone to walk through that road. Carrying a person on a sling was doubly difficult,” said Govind. By Monday evening, the boy was admitted to Malkangiri district headquarter hospital and his condition was said to be improving. The doctor could not be contacted as Malkangiri has poor mobile connectivity.
The Khairput sub-centre is managed by the Tagore Society for Rural Development, an NGO, as part of Odisha government’s public-private partnership in health sector and offers the same primary services as government-operated centers.
The health sector in Odisha has often been criticised for poor service delivery, partly as a result of substantial vacancies in government healthcare systems. On September 1, a 27-year-old woman lost her newborn baby in Gurudijhatia town of Cuttack since the primary health centre she approached for emergency delivery was shut on Sunday morning. The woman delivered under a tree but the newborn could not survive. As per government statistics, there is 28 per cent vacancy of doctors in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) while at the community health centre level; it is close to 90 per cent. In Malkangiri district alone, 71 doctor posts are lying vacant.
Keeping it in mind, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has now included healthcare feedback in his proposed Mo Sarkar programme, scheduled to start from October 2. Under the programme, Patnaik will interact with people directly to gauge efficiency of services delivered by police and healthcare officials in villages and towns.