Navigating boulders and slopes, they carried Mani, who was in labour, on their shoulders until the nearest point a vehicle could get to.

Pregnant Adivasi woman carried in bedsheet for several kms to ambulanceMannarkad Tourism Circuit via Wikipedia
news Human Interest Wednesday, June 06, 2018 - 19:13

A pregnant Adivasi woman, who was in labour, was placed in a bedsheet, which was propped up on poles and carried on the shoulders of men for several kilometres until a vehicle could meet her to rush her to the closest hospital.

This incident took place on Wednesday in Edavani Kumba ooru, one of the most remote hamlets in Kerala’s Attapadi. The tribals of the area came together to help Tanali get his pregnant wife, Mani, to a hospital.

There are no roads in Edavani Kumba ooru, only mud tracks. In the dry season, vehicles can navigate these tracks, but due to the heavy rains, no vehicle could reach the hamlet. They had to carry Mani to Arulikonam, for vehicles can come here. Moving precariously over boulders along a dry river bed and navigating steep slopes, these men carried Mani for kilometres on end.

But their ordeal didn’t end there.

Despite repeated calls to the public health centre, no arrangement was made to transport Mani to the nearest hospital in Kottathara. Finally, a private vehicle was arranged to take the patient to the hospital in time for the delivery.

Within ten minutes of arriving at the Kottathara tribal hospital, Mani gave birth to a baby girl. The Palakkad District Medical officer Dr Reetha has confirmed that delivery happened at 10.30 am and it was a normal delivery. The baby weighs 2.3kg.

Dr Reetha told TNM, “The patient had been coming to the hospital for routine check-ups. She started experiencing labour pains in the morning. From the preliminary information I got from the medical officer at Kottathara hospital, I was told that the hospital did not have an ambulance. Their ambulance is off the road since it has no fitness certificate. To get a fitness certificate, they have to pay an insurance amount, and funds for that is provided by the panchayat. As of now, the panchayat has not yet got any funds. The panchayat says they had submitted a request for funds on May 7 and so far nothing has happened.”

She added, “However, the National Health Mission here has a MM4 mobile medical unit. So hire local vehicles to transport patients.”

Dr Reetha went on to say, “When the hospital got the call at 8 am in the morning, a vehicle was hired and sent to pick the patient. But, by then, the patient was already in a vehicle arranged by the Kudumbashree unit there and the two vehicles met each other on the way. Considering that it was not advisable to shift the patient from one vehicle to another, the hired vehicle ended up trailing the Kudumbashree vehicle.”  

In 2013, when it came to light that the infant mortality rate here was 66 to a 1,000 – a number that shocked the world – Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh announced that 16 roads would be laid, connecting several villages and hamlets to health centres.

But, till date, there is no road in Edavani. Though Rs 9.75 lakh have been allotted to construct a road from Swarnagadha to Edavani, it remains on paper alone.

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