GUWAHATI, April 24 - April 21, 2020 started like any normal day for the C-NES Boat Clinic health teams. There are 15 teams in all, in 13 districts across Assam. Barpeta and Dhubri districts have two units each to cater to a huge population.
The Boat Clinic team in Dhemaji, bordering Arunachal Pradesh, was prepared for another long day ahead. Times were uncertain and challenging. Along with routine health check-ups, the Boat Clinics have also been tirelessly fighting the battle against COVID-19, and spreading awareness to prevent the pandemic in the far-flung, remote and underdeveloped river islands of the Brahmaputra.
Regular awareness sessions are extremely critical for the insular river islanders amongst whom the clinics deliver basic health services and more, supported by NHM, Government of Assam.
As the Dhemaji team proceeded to conduct a health camp at Pakhoriguri sapori (island village), they were stopped by a few villagers. �There is an emergency,� they said. A pregnant 19-year-old Silaboti Boro from Udaypur village of Mechaki sapori was being brought by her parents on a country boat to the nearest mainland hospital as roads were closed due to the nationwide lockdown. Her husband was far away in Chennai.
Silaboti started labour on the boat itself and the family was not being able to contact the 108 ambulance service despite frantically trying to. The very sight of the �Doctor�s Boat� from afar was godsend. It was noon. Medical Officer Dr Modhusmita Hazarika and ANM Mohima Boro had no time to lose. They had to take a quick decision. There was no way they could take her to the nearest health centre. It would be too late. It had to be here, now, on the country boat. The surface was cleaned, and necessary hygienic precautions taken. Gloves were put on and the duo swung into action. Exactly 26 minutes later, at 12.26 pm, a healthy baby boy weighing 3 kg was born, much to the delight of the family. A baby born on a country boat.