Navy reaches out to islanders with medical aid

K. Venkiteswaran

Kochi: The development in the Lakshadweep islands has brought several changes in the infrastructure and lifestyle of the population who reside there. However, health care at the moment in these islands remains at a very basic level. For the most part, the islanders are bereft of specialised medical facilities and have to travel to either the headquarters at Kavaratti or to the mainland for better medical care.

The Indian Navy had in the past reached out to the islanders, conducting medical camps. One such camp was held in 1999. The last medical camps conducted in the Kavaratti and Androth islands in November 2005 were a resounding success, where hundreds of people were attended to and many major ailments were diagnosed and subsequently treated.

INS Sharda, an offshore patrol vessel under the Southern Naval Command at Kochi, sailed for the Lakshadweep islands on the eve of February 1, with a medical team headed by Surgeon Captain Mohan Malse, Commanding Officer INHS Sanjivani, along with an ophthalmologist, physician, paediatrician, gynaecologist, dermatologist, dental surgeon, medical officers, nursing officers, paramedics and support staff embarked, on a three-day medical camp to three islands of the Lakshadweep - Kadmatt, Amini and Kiltan.

Based on a series of meetings with the Medical and Administrative heads in each of the these islands, the team was equipped with a complete pathological laboratory, radiology and dental set-up along with a adequate supply of drugs for each and every situation in packages called `Bricks' (in naval parlance ), separately for each island.

The camp at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) on February 2 on Kadmat Island witnessed participation by over 1,200 patients through the day till late in the evening. At the second camp organised in the Community Health Centre (CHC) on Amini Island on February 3, about 1,300 patients were attended to.

The islanders welcomed the team as they entered the CHC to conduct the second camp, with their traditional dance.

The enthusiasm amongst the inhabitants of this island towards the medical team was highly encouraging.

The third and final camp was held at the PHC, Kiltan Island on February 4 wherein about 808 patients benefited from this camp. Comparatively, eye, paediatric and medical OPD's registered a large number of patients.

The main thrust was to screen the local population and then guide them to a proper treatment regime or refer them for further investigation and treatment where required.

It is planned to study the feasibility of establishing a telemedicine link with the islands to offer specialist consultation to the doctors in the islands.

Presently, telephone contact has been established with medical officers at the islands for interacting with the specialist medical officers at INHS Sanjivani for consultation.