It takes a village to raise a child – this African saying has come true closer to home at Patgaun, Maharashtra.
Till recently, Sangeeta Kochrekar (name changed), who suffers cerebral palsy, was fully dependent on her parents for care. Today, the 21-year-old now has several carers, thanks to a social initiative under which her village was adopted by the students and staff of Government Medical College, Miraj. They have taken charge of the medical needs of Sangeeta and several others in Patgaun, located 17 kms from Miraj, since April 2017.
“While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, several therapies including physiotherapy can help the patients become more independent,” said Shivaraj Shinde, a second year MBBS student, who is part of the group that adopted Patgaun.
“After identifying Sangeeta, we started physiotherapy on her. Her joints are stiff as she has been immobile for many years. It’s only been a month, and we hope to see her improve soon,” Shinde added. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects muscle control, body movement and coordination.
Dr Pallavi Sapale, Dean, Government Medical College, Miraj, emphasised that going beyond their call of duty should be the spirit of every doctor. “It is our duty to provide best healthcare to patients. What the students decided is beyond their call of duty. Such initiatives have never been a part of their syllabus, but it is important for them to realise the ground reality,” she said.
At present, 80 people, including students, medical staff, doctors and teachers, are involved in this initiative. With a population around 2,500, farming is the main livelihood of the people in this village.
Talking about the issues plaguing the village, Kiran Gaikwad, second year MBBS student, said, “During our first health camp, we observed that the village has problems including open defecation and lack of sanitation and hygiene that have severe impact on the health of the villagers. Diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera are common. Our key focus now is to make them aware about the importance of cleanliness.”
The volunteers are also planning to assist the children in the village with studies. “These remote areas need to be developed, and so we have decided to help the children with their studies. If we can find time to watch a movie once a week, we can definitely utilise the same time to assist these children,” Shinde signed off.