23 June, 2021

Dr. Do-It-Yourself

Dr. Do-It-Yourself

SOMYA Pocha, a Madiya-Gond tribal, is "Doctorji" at Medpalli. His village lies in Naxal-infested Gadchiroli district, a few kms off Lok Biradari Prakalp in Hemalkasa where the Amte family has tried, since '73, to cure the malaise of neglected healthcare in Maharashtra.

Pocha, a dropout of LBP's ashram school, earns a meagre Rs 100 a month. But he enjoys helping villagers who, till now, had been serviced only by powerful pujaris. The "jhooti-bhooti" invoked spirits that invariably failed when they were racked by the district's scourges—cerebral malaria; TB; scabies; gastroenteritis; bites by wild animals, explains Vilas Manohar, volunteer and son-in-law of Baba Amte.

Pocha may not be trained to handle complications. But he hung around the doctor couple, Dr Manda and Prakash Amte for six years. Today he keeps a neat register listing patients, their ills, treatment, gives injections, prescribes and disburses tablets for fevers, stitches small cuts. He is always on call at his "clinic" before and after he returns home from his...

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