Boat clinics? Heard of them?
If living in North East, you might have even experienced it but for most of us city dwellers, boat clinics is a new concept. It’s a private-public partnership between the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES) and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), government of Assam. These boat clinics have become the primary access to healthcare for almost 30 lakh inhabitants of the 2500 saporis where construction of permanent structure for healthcare facilities is almost impossible due to recurring flood.
As many as 15 boat clinics service 13 districts in the state and in these times of pandemic, these boat clinics have stepped up their efforts in these far-flung river islands. The team in these boats goes to every sapori, telling people about the Corona, educating them about need for social distancing, and are carrying out community surveillance in their designated areas.
In normal times, each boat clinic has a 15-member staff and they sail to provide immunisation to children, pregnant women, and new mothers as well as treat vulnerable adult groups and generate awareness on family planning. They carry out general check-ups for malaria and other vector-borne diseases and early detection of communicable diseases like HIV and tuberculosis as well as non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cataract.
Healthcare workers as such need to be applauded time and again but these teams on the boat clinics are indeed extraordinary.