The Centre for North East Studies & Policy Research (C-NES) in Partnership with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Government of Assam, formally launched five new Boat Clinics in Kamrup, Goalpara, Bongaigaon, Barpeta and Dhubri districts of Assam in October 2010. Ashok Rao, Programme Manager C-NES reports on recent visit to a health camp conducted by the newly initiated Goalpara Boat Clinic:
The Goalpara Boat Clinic office is setup at Lakhipur, a small town in the district and is about 42 km from the National Highway 52 bordering Meghalaya. The road from Agia town through which the diversion from NH 52 is taken meanders through small hillocks and reaches a stretch of dusty road under repair till we reached Lakhipur. To reach the ghat we traveled further through crowded market places with narrow roads (people hardly giving way for the vehicle). The Boat Clinic is operating from Chunari ghat, about 12 km from Lakhipur. The original ghat on the embankment has shifted further away as the Brahmaputra has receded. The driver had to carefully maneuver the vehicle through soft sandy soil. The boat had just arrived after having dropped the health team at the camp site. The District Programme Officer, Monoranjan Sutradhar came to pick me up for the camp. I had carried life jackets for the team from Guwahati and the packet was loaded onto the boat. We traveled for 30 minutes and reached Patakata char part 1 (it was 12: 50 pm then) where the camp was going on. The team had arranged the camp in an open area.
This char has a population of around 1500 and habitation is in clusters (20 to 25 houses). The population of the char is of minority community and has settled from 1998/1999 migrating mainly from nearby Dhubri district. Their main occupation is cultivation with some fishing. Whatever they produce is sold in the market in Lakhipur or Chapar in Dhubri district. Erosions during yearly floods is a main concern for most. The elders of the village informed that a large portion of land has been swept away during the last floods. Many had to migrate to other areas. One LP school exists in the char and children willing to study further has to travel 7/8 km to reach the ME school located in another char. Goalpara district has no panchayat system due to disturbances in the last Panchayat elections. This char has a village committee which is formed mainly to look into matters related to land issues and settling disputes within the community.
The lone ASHA in the char has completed 5 module training and she complained that pregnant women were not willing to go in for institutional delivery. I informed her that we would give training to the Dhai’s (midwives) from the char area which will help her work to a great extent and she should therefore continue to work and provide awareness for better health of the community.
The Diwani (village head), elders and youths requested me to have 2 camps at
different sites in this char as the area is big and the sick, elderly and children will have to walk long distances to come to this camp site. I assured them that we will assess the need for the same and will do the needful.
The camp ended at 3:30 pm, people continued to pour in for treatment
including a young child who was brought with fever and was diagnosed
with malaria.146 patients were registered for treatment with 10 RI’s and 8 ANCs.
The journey back to Chunari ghat took almost an hour.