A hospital run by a voluntary organisation at Nandakumarpur village in the Sunderbans; (right) solar-powered refrigerators an Indo-German group has donated to the hospital. Pictures by Bibhash Lodh
A hospital in the Sunderbans run by a voluntary organisation has got a boost following the installation of solar refrigerators and mobile shadow-less lamps with help from a group of Germans and Indians living in Hamburg.
The three refrigerators are meant for storing blood, a facility Swarnalata Sabuj Seba Sangha lacked, while the three lamps will help doctors perform small surgeries in the outpatient department.
“These equipment will be of great help to us. We did not have the provision to store blood in the hospital. During an emergency, a patient’s family members had to go to the Diamond Harbour blood bank, around 60km away. If the bank does not have matching blood, the family has to go to Calcutta,” said Ansuman Das, the director and secretary of Sabuj Sangha, a voluntary organisation that runs the hospital at Nandakumarpur village in Mathurapur II block.
“With these refrigerators, we’ll be in a position to stock at least some units of blood that will help in emergency.”
The 60-bedded hospital, where around 650 patients turn up every month, caters to at least two blocks in the Sunderbans — Mathurapur II and Patharpratima.
Doctors at Swarnalata Sabuj Seba Sangha, set up in 2007 with donations from an Irish charity group Goal, said blood is required during deliveries and general surgeries. On an average the hospital tackles 25 delivery cases a month.
“The entire process of getting blood from the Diamond Harbour bank stretches two-three days. The period becomes even longer if the patient’s family has to go to Calcutta,” said Das.
A doctor at the hospital, who has worked in the Sunderbans for nearly two decades, said the shadow-less lamps will help conduct minor surgeries in the OPD. “There are some surgeries for which patients do not need admission and can be performed in the OPD. Shadow-less lamps will be of great help in conducting those surgeries,” he said.
Sabuj Sangha runs three hospitals in the Sunderbans, of which the one at Nandakumarpur serves as the base hospital, having facilities like X-ray, ultrasound and ECG.
The other two centres are at Herambagopalpur and Achintyanagar, both across the river in Patharpratima. They have limited facilities and do not conduct diagnostic tests, for which patients have to visit the base hospital, located close to the Mridangabhanga river.
The reason for building the hospital close to the river was to ensure easy access. “In the Sunderbans crossing the river is part of the daily life of the people. So a hospital near the river is within easy reach of the people,” said Das.
Mathurapur II has a government health centre but it lacks diagnostic and other facilities of Swarnalata Sabuj Seba Sangha.
“This hospital (Seba Sangha) is of great help to the villagers. The nearest hospital with similar facilities is in Raidighi, which takes 30 minutes to reach on a cycle van. For better treatment, one has to go to Diamond Harbour Sub-divisional Hospital, almost three hours from here,” said Saswati Sashmal, in her late 60s.
Her younger sister has undergone an operation for removal of appendix at Swarnalata Sabuj Seba Sangha.
Saswati is unaware of what the new gadgets are capable of but knows that any extra facility in the hospital is a boon for villagers.
The equipment, whose arrival was celebrated with a small gathering of well-wishers at the hospital on Thursday, were bought with monetary contributions from corporate houses and individuals in Germany.
The Hanseatic India Forum, a group formed by some Germans and Indians living in Hamburg, convinced corporate houses, including Mercedes-Benz, as well as individuals to contribute for buying the equipment.
“The equipment cost about 40,000 euros or Rs 4 lakh,” said Amal Mukhopadhyay, a member of the Hanseatic India Forum, who was instrumental in raising funds for refrigerators and lamps and delivering them to the hospital. Dieter Grutzmacher, a German member of the forum, visited the hospital on the occasion of the installation of the equipment.
After the refrigerators and lamps at the Calcutta port, a shipping company transported them free to the hospital.
Tridip Sar, the block development officer of Mathurapur II, and Mujibar Rehman Khan, the gram panchayat pradhan of Nandakumarpur were also present at Thursday’s programme.