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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Farm Protest: At Singhu, a mini hospital for quick relief

On the front of a white tent, medicines are given out and lab tests are conducted; the four beds are placed at the back. The hospital is equipped with catheters, ECG machines, oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment.

Written by Jignasa Sinha , Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: January 9, 2021 9:40:02 am
Farm bills, Farmers protest, Farmers suicide, Farmers deaths, indian express newsA protester undergoing treatment at the four-bed facility at Singhu Friday. (Photo: Abhinav Saha)

With several farmer deaths and many protesters falling ill in the harsh weather, a temporary, four-bed ‘hospital’ has come up at Singhu, near the main stage, particularly with an eye on the elderly and heart patients.

Life Care Foundation, an NGO from Punjab’s Dera Bassi, said they set up “24-hour emergency hospital” after they felt the need to move beyond providing just first-aid.

“We have been giving first-aid and over the counter medicines from the first day, but in recent days we felt the need to have a hospital here. Since it’s an eight-kilometre stretch, it takes time for the ambulance to come and ferry patients to hospital,” said Avatar Singh (36) from Dera Bassi in Punjab, who started the initiative at the Singhu protest site.

“We’ve seen people who had elevated blood pressure, one seemed to have suffered a heart attack. So we realised it is necessary to have this facility at the camp. In fact, many more such hospitals need to come up. It’s not much but something is better than nothing. We also have nebulisers for asthma patients and a fridge to keep insulin injections and tetanus shots, since both sugar issues and injuries are common,” he said.

“We will have three doctors from different hospitals in Punjab who will work in 10-15 days’ shift at the camp. We are also paying them a salary,” he said.

Singh, a farmer, said he had to take a Rs 9 lakh loan to help at the protests. He has spent Rs 3.5 lakh so far.

Saadiq Mohammad, a volunteer, said he and seven other pharmacists and doctors from Mohali run the hospital and medicine store round the clock. “We have witnessed several farmer deaths due to the winter. There are a lot of old men and women here who have diabetes, blood pressure and gastric issues. Each day, we have around 12-20 emergency patients,” said Saadiq.

The nearest hospital from the border is 2-3 kilometres away and it takes 25-30 minutes to reach there because of the huge traffic at the protest site.

On the front of a white tent, medicines are given out and lab tests are conducted; the four beds are placed at the back. The hospital is equipped with catheters, ECG machines, oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment.

Doctors said they treat 20-25 patients a day. At least 4-5 patients are admitted and treated for a day or two and 2-3 patients are referred to other hospitals.

“If a person suffers a heart attack, we give them primary treatment and send them to a hospital. First-aid in these cases has to be quick. We also test people for high sugar and cholesterol. Most farmers don’t take the right medicines and fall sick,” said Dr Surjit, who works at a hospital in Mohali and is volunteering here.

Dr Chandan Singh (28) from Chandigarh was busy attending to patients complaining of diarrhea, chest pain, etc. “I felt it was more important to come here because the farmers have been here for months in poor hygienic conditions and are bound to fall ill. They needed our help more than city dwellers,” he said.

Ravinder, a farmer from near Rohtak in Haryana, had come to take medicines for a skin infection. “I saw they have put beds as well. It’s a relief to know we will have the option if we need it,” he said.

Balvinder Singh (56), a farmer from Rohtak, has been admitted at the mini hospital for two days. He said he collapsed on the road after his joints and head ached for a while. His wife brought him here and doctors gave him medicines and checked his BP. “They say I may have typhoid,” said Balvinder.

The organisation is planning to get more equipment and doctors who can similarly look after protesting farmers at the Tikri border.

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