| Nurses examine patients at the health fair at Dodhia in Dibrugarh district on Monday. Telegraph picture |
Dodhia Charisuti Chapori (Dibrugarh), May 24: Dibru-Saikhowa National Park spread across 765 square km in the twin Upper Assam districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia is known for its flora and fauna.
Very few, however, have come to know that the human habitation deep inside the core area of the park has not seen much of modern civilisation.
Dodhia is a composition of 14 chaporis (sand islands) where around 3,500 people, most of them from the Mising community, have been staying for nearly six decades.
The area falls under the Chabua revenue circle in Dibrugarh district and is only accessible through waterways on the turbulent Dibru and Brahmaputra rivers.
A journey to the area to attend a rural health fair organised by the National Rural Health Mission in association with the health department and the Assam Medical College and Hospital today was some sort of a revelation.
It took the entire team of around 120 people comprising officials, doctors, paramedical staff, NRHM officials and reporters reach the area after a two-hour journey in three mechanised boats.
One of the boats is a sophisticated one named Akha which is jointly operated by the Centre of North East Studies and the NRHM.
The team that started its journey from the Balijan ghat near Chabua which is around 30km from Dibrugarh town included Dibrugarh deputy commissioner G.D. Tripathi, principal and chief superintendent of the AMCH, T.R. Borborah and joint director of health services D.N. Bangthai.
Hundreds of people, mostly women and children, were eagerly waiting for the team to arrive at the Dodhia Charisuti Chapori which is one of the biggest of the 14 chaporis.
“We have never seen doctors and nurses in our area, it is a very unusual feeling for all of us. In case of a medical emergency we had to take the patient on a boat to the Balijan ghat and the journey takes around 45 minutes to three hours depending on the condition of the river. From there we again have to arrange a vehicle to take the patient to Chabua or Dibrugarh. The entire exercise costs around Rs 3,000 which only a few of us can afford,” Lakhikanta Kuli, 69, said.
Village headman Rajaram Pait requested the government to conduct regular health camps in the area so that the small farmers and those who rear cattle can reap the benefits of the government schemes.
Tripathi said a health sub-centre would become functional very soon in the area where two ANM (Auxiliary Nursing and Midwifery) nurses would be available to take care of the people’s primary health needs.
“We are also thinking about introducing a boat ambulance so that people can avail emergency services; moreover, the frequency of the boat clinics will have to be improved. It had been a nice fact-finding exercise for me,” deputy commissioner Tripathi said.
In today’s camp, 609 patients were checked by 24 doctors. “I was surprised to find a 22-year-old youth with suspected brain tumour; we are making arrangements to shift him to the AMCH tomorrow,” Sanjib Kakoti, an associate professor of medicine at the AMCH, said.
“We will ensure that there are regular camps,” Bangthai said. “Many people have come in big boats during elections to seek votes, but nobody has done anything till now,” Puneswari Doley, 65, said.