Spread across over a thousand square kilometres, comprising the famous Kerala hill shrine Sabarimala and tourist spot Gavi, lies the Ranni block panchayat in Pathanamthitta district. For the 1.6 lakh-strong population residing in this block panchayat, the MCCM Ranni Taluk Hospital is the biggest and only government health facility available.
Recently, officials in this block panchayat solved one of the crucial problems facing thousands of people using the services of the hospital. Last week, the panchayat launched a project to serve free meals, twice a day, to all in-patients and their attenders.
The MCCM Ranni Taluk Hospital has the capacity to admit and treat 115 people at a time.
According to panchayat officials, the project titled ‘Vishapinu Vida’, meaning ‘Goodbye to Hunger’, has received wide reception from people in the region.
MCCM Ranni Taluk Hospital
“Ours is a very large block panchayat spanning over nine gram panchayat limits— Ranni-Pazhavangadi, Ranni, Ranni-Angadi, Ranni-Perunad, Vadassery, Chittar, Seethathodu, Naranamoozhu and Vechuchira. People, especially those who come from long distances, have to mostly depend on hotels for food. We have a significant number of people who are daily wage labourers and who hail from tribal communities, this project has been helpful for a lot of them,” Girija Madhu, president of the Ranni block panchayat tells TNM.
Though a non-governmental organisation had been providing food for patients in the hospital earlier, after the 2018 Kerala floods, the NGO faced a fund crunch and had to stop their services.
“Ever since, it has been very difficult for the people coming here. Often, it was the doctors and other staff here who would pool in money along with the aid from another voluntary organisation to arrange food for people. Since this is an important issue that will be helpful for many poor people dependent on the hospital, we decided to allocate a portion of the panchayat’s plan fund for this purpose and start this project. So for this year (2020-21), we have allocated Rs 10 lakh for the project,” says Girija.
Through the project, the patient and one attendant will be served lunch and dinner. “For lunch we are serving rice with three curries and for dinner, we serve gruel,” Girija adds.
The block panchayat officials said that they are looking for options to also provide breakfast.