Friday, 12 October 2018
Kerala flood diaries
Kerala floods 2018 was the biggest tragedy the state has faced in this century. There was loss of 483 lives and properties loss worth Rs. 19,512 crore according to Government of Kerala in its preliminary analysis. Dr. Vikram Sahane (NIRMAN 4) got an opportunity to participate in the flood relief operation in Kerala during last month. He is sharing hereby his experience and learning during this time.
“Recently I got opportunity to participate in Kerala flood relief work. A team was formed from Health portfolio of Tata Trusts as a part of a larger Kerala flood response team from Tata Group. The team comprised of medical doctors, nurses and other supporting staff. The team conducted medical camps in two districts of Kerala which was heavily affected by floods – Wayanadand and Idukki.
The relief work took place during the period of 28th August to 6th September 2018. In all more than twenty camps were conducted in most remote parts of these two districts based on earlier need assessment done by rescue team, and as per requests of respective health departments. The medical team camp worked in association with Tata Group volunteers consisting of multidisciplinary team and Government of Kerala Health department, and response was completely complementing with larger efforts done by Kerala government.
The cumulative number patients treated through camps is 1233.
Geography: Idukki and Wayanad are two heavily affected districts. Being at hilly terrain, these districts had double burden of landslides and floods; people have not only lost their houses, but also their land. Pozuthana, Panchayath of Kalpetta area was covered in Wayanad District. Konnathadi, Kamplikandam, Vazhathopeand Kanjikuzhi Panchayaths of Idukki districts were covered during the camp.
As I did my post-graduation in Public Health from Kerala, since then, state had never stopped to amaze me, and especially on the face of such a devastating natural calamity. There are certain takeaways that I took away from this experience.
1. Flood is not only about infectious diseases related to hygiene and sanitation. Contrary to our earlier experience with the flood in other states, we didn’t see any outbreaks associated with flood-related situations. Of course, this can be attributed to overall high hygiene status of the state.
2. Our one-fourth patients were from non-communicable diseases (HT, DM, COPD) which were off the medications for a couple of weeks and needed refilling and adjusting a dose very badly. So the relationship between flood and NCDs are again established.
3. A very efficient health system – when we see an old couple from a poor background where a husband daily checks her diabetic wife’s glucose and administer Insulin on regular basis. Palliative care patients get daily dressing for their bed sores.
4. And of courses, being a public a health professional, we never get instant satisfaction of treating the needy patients. Such a situation demands us to be in the different role, and help us to understand and appreciate the utmost role of clinical care in the difficult situation.
I really appreciate the dignity and courage with which state is facing the disaster. Just a word of caution, when efforts move from rescue and relief to reconstruction, we need to ensure that no one is left behind before stopping the efforts of relief and rescue.
Vikram Sahane, NIRMAN 4
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