GUWAHATI, Nov 1 - Forest guards play an indispensable role in protecting the forest habitats and species that WWF-India strives to conserve. Their job involves patrolling vast swathes of often inhospitable terrain with bare minimum protection and hardly any access to emergency medical facilities in case of any severe mishaps or illnesses suffered on-job.
In an effort to address such severe medical conditions and provide immediate medical relief and support, WWF-India and Apollo Hospitals have announced a one-year partnership for these forest guards.
The partnership will entail the Chennai-based hospital chain providing treatment and recovery support for frontline staff in case of a severe medical emergency, while on field. This support will be provided in 10 priority landscapes where WWF-India is actively working along with the State forest departments of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
�A partnership announcement by the two organisations covers superior quality medical treatment of patients on a first-come-first-served basis. The services made available to the forest staff would also include air ambulance and other emergency medical rescue services. For other cases, WWF-India and the State forest departments involved will admit the sick/injured staff to the nearest Apollo Hospital or its franchisee at their own expense,� a press release said.
This unique partnership between the two organisations will cover medical cases, including (but not restricted to) grievous injury due to attacks by wild animals, fall from elevated areas (like hills or machans), accidents while patrolling in vehicles (collision, falling off, etc,), burns during fire-fighting operations, bullet/sharp weapon injuries inflicted by poachers, injuries inflicted by people during mob control when handling cases of human-wildlife conflict, life-threatening diseases like malaria and dengue, venomous bites/stings, and electrocution.
�Our frontline personnel are an important part of the conservation family, and are willing to put their lives on the line to protect wildlife. Their efforts and sacrifice must not go unnoticed. We welcome this partnership with Apollo Hospitals, which will boost their morale and empower them,� said Ravi Singh, WWF-India Secretary General and CEO.
Appreciating the initiative, Samir Sinha, Chief Conservator of Forest and Field Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve, said that the partnership represented a significant milestone in ensuring the welfare of the frontline staff.
�Programmes such as this are essential to the morale of the frontline staff, and for their continued welfare. We welcome this novel initiative by WWF-India and Apollo Hospitals,� he said.
WWF-India aims to explore several such opportunities wherein processes and policies can be put in place to benefit forest staff across the country.