Health team in Kerala’s Attapady wins praise for risking lives

Seven shifted out of COVID-19 infected remote tribal hamlet

The health officials of Pudur Family Health Centre (FHC) in Attappady have won the praise of the entire State for risking their lives to reach out with crucial medical care to a remote tribal hamlet afflicted by COVID-19.

A four-member health team led by FHC medical officer Sukanya K.A. travelled more than 30 kilometres through hilly jungles to reach Murugala hamlet.

Although Dr. Sukanya and team used to conduct monthly camps at Murugala, their journey to the tribal hamlet on Friday was the toughest ever.

Accompanied by Health Inspector Sunil Vasu, Junior Health Inspector Shaiju and driver Sajesh, Dr. Sukanya covered much of her journey by ambulance. They risked their lives by crossing the River Bhavani, which had a fairly strong current after continual rains in the region.

"It took nearly an hour for us to cross the river. We had no alternative to reach the hamlet. With the slippery rocks and a strong undercurrent, it was really tough and risky," Dr. Sukanya told The Hindu.

In the middle of the river, the water was chest deep. "It was too risky," shuddered the doctor. The 40-odd members of seven families in the marooned hamlet were in the grip of fear after they developed COVID-19 symptoms.

Seven of them tested positive, and Dr. Sukanya and team had yet another tough time convincing them of the necessity of isolation and treatment.

"It took a long time to convince them about the importance of preventing the spread of the disease. We shifted all the affected members to a domiciliary care centre (DCC) at Pudur, and we are monitoring them now," said Dr. Sukanya.

The health team’s risky outing became a topic of discussion on social media with the newly appointed Health Minister Veena George calling Dr. Sukanya and congratulating them on the good work.

In her Facebook post, Ms. George went on to describe the health team’s efforts as an example of total commitment to service. She said that tests would be intensified among the tribals across the State.

"We never thought that it would fetch so much attention when we ventured out to the hamlet. We were just doing our duty. I am happy that it would help the tribespeople to get better attention in this time of crisis," said Dr. Sukanya.

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