At 70, Padma Shri Physician Travels 160 Km Each Weekend To Deal with Villagers

Padma Shri Dr Arunoday Mondal treats over 12,000 sufferers within the Sunderbans without cost yearly. He travels 160 km from Kolkata each weekend to run his Sujan clinic.

Because the weekend approaches, the town of Kolkata gears as much as unwind and loosen up. However ideas of leisure are the very last thing on Dr Arunoday Mondal’s thoughts. As Saturday approaches, he readies himself for an arduous journey to Sujan — a free medical service centre began within the yr 2000.

Situated in one of many remotest areas of Hingalganj in West Bengal, this clinic is the physician’s try at giving again to his group.

Each weekend, for the final 23 years, Dr Arunoday Mondal has been waking up within the wee hours of the morning and driving to the Dum Dum Cantonment Railway Station. From right here the 70-year-old boards a practice to Hasnabad. Two hours later, on arriving on the village, he takes an autorickshaw to Lebukhali. The trip spans 30 km, however the vacation spot continues to be not in sight.

The physician should take a mechanised boat throughout the river to achieve Hingalganj, from the place Sujan is 12 km away. He completes this final stretch by motorcycle.

Six hours and 160 km later, Dr Arunoday Mondal walks into Sujan the place he says “a whole lot” wait, their medical grievances on the prepared. Dangerous street connectivity and abject poverty imply most of them have walked to Sujan. Their drained faces present it.

However because the physician and affected person see one another, hope is rekindled. The individuals’s ‘Sundarban ke Sujan’, as he’s popularly referred to as, is now right here.

Patients from all around the Sundarbans come to Sujan to avail free medical care
Sufferers from throughout the Sundarbans come to Sujan to avail free medical care, Image supply: Dr Mondal

Dr Mondal’s causes for establishing the free clinic on this distant a part of the state had been private. “I grew up right here,” he says. “This place [Chandrakhali Panchayat area of Hingalganj] has been my residence. Rising up, I noticed how powerful it was for my group to achieve a health care provider. My grandfather, a homoeopathic physician, would typically deal with sufferers without cost. I watched and was impressed.”

Dr Mondal aspired to do the identical. Following an MBBS from the Calcutta Nationwide Medical School, he labored on the Dr B C Roy Memorial Hospital for Youngsters. However stop in 1980 to begin his personal apply.

Nonetheless, ideas of his native Hingalganj had been continuously on his thoughts. “My socially aware thoughts needed to do one thing for the underprivileged individuals of Sundarbans,” he explains.

And in 2000, Dr Mondal couldn’t ignore his interior voice any longer.

Sujan — a ray of hope for the individuals of Sundarbans

Sujan provides people with medicines, scans, pathological tests and physiotherapy
Sujan offers individuals with medicines, scans, pathological assessments and physiotherapy, Image supply: Dr Mondal

For the primary two years, Dr Mondal would seek the advice of sufferers without cost at his paternal home in Hingalganj. His recognition quickly grew and the house fell quick. So, in 2000 he arrange Sujan on a bit of land he bought. “I run the two-storey centre myself with none authorities assist.”

For the reason that day the centre was flagged off, its doorways have at all times been open to anybody and each one of many Sundarbans, offered they fall under the poverty line. The diaspora of sufferers embrace villagers, fishermen, native residents of Hasnabad and Adivasi households who stay close to Santiniketan.”

Although Dr Mondal consults solely on weekends, his group of eight medical workers are at all times on the centre to assist anybody. They help sufferers with pathological assessments, sonographies and CT scans. Along with this, there’s a physiotherapy centre on the clinic the place paralytic and disabled individuals come for normal remedy and train.

When the physician isn’t busy consulting, he units up eye checkup camps, diabetic detection and prevention camps, gynaecological checkup camps, most cancers detection and prevention camps, blood donation camps, and many others. Sujan has grow to be a beacon of hope for the individuals.

Numerous medical camps are held at Sujan frequently through the year
Quite a few medical camps are held at Sujan steadily all year long, Image supply: Dr Mondal

And because the inflow of sufferers is growing, Dr Mondal shares his plans to bolster the power’s capability. “We’re planning on beginning a 16-bed unit quickly — 4 beds can be reserved for snake chunk sufferers, six beds for anticipating moms, one other 4 for medical emergencies and two beds for neonatal care.”

He provides that the snake chunk ward is of prime significance. Elaborating on the rationale, he says, “Hingalganj is in such a distant space. Authorities services usually are not sufficient to satisfy the wants of the individuals. The Sundarbans are in style for his or her biodiversity, which incorporates snakes, so snake chunk instances are quite common.”

Regardless of the federal government arranging anti-venom services, the physician shares that these are inadequate.

“In my expertise, I’ve witnessed 30 individuals dying of snake bites yearly,” he notes. One among the instances is etched in his reminiscence. “I had attended a wedding within the village. Two days after the marriage, the younger bride of 18 was sleeping exterior the home when a snake bit her. There wasn’t any anti-venom obtainable and she or he died.”

Service rooted in love

Dr Arunoday Mondal receiving the Padma Shri in 2020
Dr Arunoday Mondal receiving the Padma Shri in 2020, Image supply: Dr Mondal

Immediately, as Dr Mondal is ready to put the grins again on so many faces via his service, he says life has come full circle. “I used to really feel unhappy seeing the depressing situations of the individuals of my village after I was younger. There are authorities services however these are far. Poor roads, no electrical energy and poor community in these areas imply a whole lot of hardships for these individuals.”

Dr Mondal’s efforts to carry change in these areas haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2020 he was conferred the Padma Shri for his exceptional contribution.

Talking about it, he says, “It’s in spite of everything an honour. However the actual honour is the love I get from individuals and their respect. That makes me extra proud.”

What’s commendable is his perspective about serving the underprivileged. He hasn’t taken a single break day not even on the peak of the pandemic when issues had been unhealthy.

“I can’t afford to not go to the clinic,” is his argument.

He recounts an occasion the place after performing a routine checkup on a pregnant lady, he urged she go to a authorities hospital for her supply. “However the poor roads meant she by no means reached the hospital. After they lastly did, the child had died contained in the womb.”

Dr Mondal needs to make sure the individuals of his beloved Sundarbans ought to by no means need to expertise the unwanted side effects of a negligent healthcare system. “I’ll proceed doing what I can for my individuals, without cost, for so long as I stay.”

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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