‘Medical boat’ to visit Thanthonni Thuruth

The old medical boat to Thanthonni Thuruth in this image from the 1980s.

The old medical boat to Thanthonni Thuruth in this image from the 1980s.

For residents of Thanthonni Thuruth, the proposed medical boat service from next month is likely to be at best a small relief, while it will be more of a reminder of how even basic health care remains still inaccessible years after the Goshree bridges changed the fortunes of those in the neighbouring islands for good.

Lourdes Hospital, a city-based institution, has decided to reintroduce a medical boat, popularly known as ‘Marunnu Boat,’ for the 60-odd families who either has to depend on the erratic boat service or row their way to the city for the simple act of consulting a doctor or buying medicines.

“The boat was introduced in the 1980s to islands like Kadamakkudy and Pizhala and was in vogue, though sporadically, till 2016-17. Though in between we launched mobile medical units to 12 centres accessible by road, the boat service was shelved as the places being served by it gradually got connectivity. We are now reintroducing it solely for the residents of Thanthonni Thuruth,” said Resmi S. Kaimal, family medicine consultant at the hospital.

The islanders have volunteered to make available a boat fitted with engine for the visits of a doctor and a nurse with essential medicines on the first and third Thursdays every month. The team will also tend to bed-ridden patients and offer routine medical check-ups.

“Initially, we will carry medicines for common ailments like diabetes and blood pressure, and once we get accustomed to the medical history of the islanders, we will get a fair idea of the kind of medicines we need to bring. Since patients examined by the medical team will have an online register opened in their names, they will have little formalities to comply with in case they are referred for in-person consultation at the hospital,” said Dr. Kaimal.

A nightmare

T.R. Subbayyan, a resident of Thanthonni Thuruth, said that while the proposed visit of the mobile medical team twice a month would be of some relief, especially to the aged, it was far from inadequate.

“Accessing health care service continues to be a tough task for us. A visit to a city hospital may consume an entire day as the timing of the boat service decides when one will be able to return home. The service may get cancelled without notice, leaving people stranded. The uncertainty of the boat service has left the majority to depend on row boats though even that is not possible for the aged,” he said.

The islanders can either go to the primary health centre in Mulavukad for basic check-ups or minor ailments. But since it has no in-patient facility, for more serious ailments, they have to go to the city.

In critical cases, considerable time is lost in taking patients to the hospital and such an eventuality remains the nightmare of every islander, said Mr. Subbayyan.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 7:40:27 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/medical-boat-to-visit-thanthonnithuruth/article65579390.ece