The denizens of cyclone ravaged Sunderbans bogged down by poor health facilities and a recent spurt in diseases get medical succour from a lone doctor who visits them every weekend.

Patients flock in at noon to the dispensary at Roypara in Hingalganj block every Saturday to consult Dr Arunodoy Mondal, who travels from Kolkata in a five hour journey over the weekend.

“I treat around 150 patients during the weekends,” Dr. Mondal said.

The Sunderbans delta with poor communication facilities has few health services with the primary health centre having no doctor after the Cylone Aila hit the region on May 25.

“The primary health centre here has got no doctors since the cyclone. This dispensary has been very useful for the people living in the nearby delta of Sunderbans,” a regular patient to the dispensary, Nripen Roy said.

“Over 2233 patients were treated since the cyclone,” claims Dr. Mondal, who plans to open a maternity unit besides facility for treating snakebites.

“We have plan to open maternity and snakebite units as infant mortality and death caused by snakebites are high in Sundarbans,” he said.

A primary health worker agreed that the dispensary is a great help to the residents here as there was no doctor in the centre.

Considered a ray of hope among the villagers, the health centre established three years ago now boosts of a seven member staff. It has a minimal fee of Rs 20 for poor and Rs 50 for those above poverty line to pay for establishment costs which goes to pay their salaries.

“Even a beggar has to pay whatever little he can. The rest I pay,” Dr. Mondal said.

The dispensary is run by medicines collected from fellow doctors, donated money and with his own earnings in Kolkata he said.

The cyclone on May 25 has caused a rise in a number of diseases in the area, he added.

“After cyclone Aila over 1200 diarrhoea patients were treated here. Skin diseases, respiratory problems and hypertension caused by cyclone are rife now,” Dr. Mondal said.

The cyclone has aggravated respiratory problems while stagnant water in the fields and ponds caused skin lesions and as the bulk of the population drank saline water it led to hypertension, he added.