Imphal: Revamping of hospitals in Manipur's border districts of Chandel, Churachandpur and Ukhrul in northeastern India are not just helping locals but also benefiting poor Myanmarese settled along neglected border areas.
Okram Ibomcha, the director of health department, Manipur, is working towards revamping the border hospitals and overseeing the presence of doctors and paramedics in these remote areas where there are virtually no accommodation and basic amenities.
Three junior doctors are posted at the Public Health Centre (PHC) at Parbung in Churachandpur district.
As IANS visited this neglected border village, there was just one doctor. He said that since the healthy mountain tribals hardly require hospitalisation, each of the doctors stay there on a 15-day rotation basis.
At the village, the presence of nurses and other staff was also small. There were just two indoor patients.
Kwatha, a border village, can boast of one public health centre (PHC) where one woman delivered a healthy baby in candlelight some days ago. Other PHCs in Ukhrul district have also started functioning normally.
In the recent past, the tribals there used to get medical help from the military hospitals of the Assam Rifles.
In the absence of a hospital at Poi in Ukhrul district, the villagers get help from a small hospital of the Assam Rifles there.
From time to time, the Assam Rifles has been issuing press releases on medical camps in these interior areas and saving snake bite victims.
K. Rajo, director of Family Welfare Department, Manipur, said: "We are planning to cover 3.50 lakh children on Sunday's polio campaign. We have issued motorbikes to the paramedics for travelling in the remote areas where there is no jeepable road."
He said it is clear that many children from across the border will come to the transit points like bus stands, market places, clubs where these bikers shall be rushing.
Ibomcha, however, has ensured round the clock service to the people in these border districts by seeing to it that the doctors and paramedics are present there.
As there are no proper quarters, most of the doctors and nurses are staying in unoccupied rooms of the hospital complex. Besides, absence of water, power and other basic amenities is common problem.
Nandakumar, who had to deliver a baby in candle light and torch light, said: "If basic amenities are provided we could render meaningful service."
In the absence of clean water, mountain stream water has to be used and it is risky.
Besides, the doctors said the serious patients have to be rushed to major hospitals in the district headquarters or Imphal. As there is no ambulance facility or bus service the family members of the patients have to hitch a ride in the trucks or if lucky, a station wagon.
Though Moreh, the border town in Chandel district where there is legalised border trade, has a major hospital, people did not feel benefited as expected.
There were reports that the doctors and staff used to stay at their homes in and around Imphal, leaving the pharmacists and some nurses to hold the fort in their absence.
That is why Win Oo, a displaced MBBS doctor from Myanmar, opened his four-bedded clinic in the Moreh market to treat the Myanmarese villagers.
He was one of the pro-democracy activists who fled to Manipur along with hundreds of others shortly after the upheaval on August 8, 1988.
A security officer posted at Moreh told IANS that police no longer arrest Myanmarese nationals who come to the border hospitals for treatment.
In the past, some of them were arrested and sent to jail.
Apart from the Look East policy the Myanmarese government allows Indian tourists and traders to go up to Tamu, five km from the international gate for shopping.
These Indians do not have to produce any travel documents except to pay Rs.10 each as "immigration fee". But then all of them have to return to Manipur by evening and in the past those who overstayed were detained.