When a medical relief team taking medicines to the most remote camps and hospitals in Thrissur district reached a mental rehabilitation home with 400 patients at Muringoor near Chalakudy on Saturday, they found it marooned in flood waters.
Local block panchayat member Thomas waited in a small boat near the entrance of the home to guide the relief workers to the hospital hidden from view by the trees — the roads to the entrance were underwater.
Dead cattle and poultry from a farm run by the Divine Relief Centre to which the home is attached floated in the water.
When the medical team — the first to reach the homesince the floods hit normal life six days ago — entered the home, they found 400 patients cramped into the second and third floors of the building, with the ground and first floors inundated.
Unable to evacuate the patients, the staff at the centre had decided to wait for the floodwater to recede.
Before the medical team arrived, the elderly block panchayat member Thomas was the only link between the home and the outside world.
“Navigating his small boat through the floodwaters, Thomas took small amounts of supplies to the home. He also took away bodies of two inmates who died at the home during the calamity,” says Dr Anin Aniyan from Social Security Division of Kerala health department, who is a member of the medical relief team.
“The situation at the mental health home was sad. The patients could not be moved out. The deaths did not occur due to drowning but probably due to the crisis created by the floods. We heard that one of the persons who died was a diabetic and his condition was compounded by the lack of medicines and food,’’ said U R Rahul, a postgraduate student at Thrissur Government Medical College and a member of the team.
Over the past five days, the medical relief team has reached some of the most inaccessible villages of Thrissur district that are surrounded by water for several kilometres.
On Sunday, the six-member team took the first consignment of medical supplies to the marooned Kundoor village near Mala in Chalakudy region, which has been cut off by the flooding of Chalakudy river. The members walked through chest-deep water for over 3 km with supplies to reach a remote camp with over 500 people.
“This is the first time we are seeing relief workers in this region. No one has been willing to come because the village is surrounded by a vast expanse of water. About 150 of us, including children, were stranded on rooftop of the tallest house in the village for three days before we were rescued in a boat by our people,’’ says Remya, a mother of two at Kundoor relief camp as the doctors conduct check-ups and provid medicines.
“Our role is to take medical supplies to the most inaccessible areas where no one can reach,’’ said Dr Mohammed Ashil, executive director of the Social Security Division of the Kerala government, who is the head of team of doctors assigned to take medicines to remote locations.
“We are a group of doctors willing to take risks to ensure that relief supplies reach people who need it the most,’’ says Dr Anin Aniyan, also on the relief team.
One of the big concerns the doctors engaged in rescue work know they will have to encounter after the flood is the breakout of epidemics.
“We are providing prophylactics to prevent infections like leptospirosis. There is the danger of epidemics like chicken pox and respiratory diseases because the flood has forced hundreds of people to live together in cramped conditions,’’ says Dr Sumesh, a psychiatry professor who is part of the medical team.
“We are doing our best now but a bigger crisis looms ahead,’’ says Dr Raveendran, a senior professor of gastroenterology and another member of the team.
Kerala floods: Kerala seeks from Centre medicines to prepare for disease outbreaks
New Delhi: The Kerala government has asked for 90 medicines from the Centre to prepare for disease outbreaks after floodwaters recede. The first tranche of these medicines is expected to reach the flood-hit state soon.
“Under the guidance of the Prime Minister, the Health Ministry is extending all support for the flood relief measures in Kerala. We are monitoring the flood situation in Kerala on a regular basis. Secretary (Health) is in constant communication with the State health functionaries and monitoring the situation daily through the disease surveillance network,” Health Minister J P Nadda said on Sunday.
He added that he has spoken to K K Shailaja, Kerala Health Minister, and is personally monitoring the situation.
The Health Ministry is also coordinating with other states which have committed to providing medicines so as to augment supplies. —ENS
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