Floating Dispensary is an innovative step of National Rural Health Mission Kerala to bring health care professionals and services to the people of the island panchayats of Ernakulam and Alapuzha districts.
Kadamakudy Grama Panchayat in Ernakulam district consists of 11 islands and the total population is about 20000. As these are in the outskirts of the Ernakulam city, the socio economic situation of the people is poor. The one and only health facility for the Islanders was PHC Pizhala till the introduction of the Floating Dispensary; lack of bridges to interconnect the islands and the city makes people’s access to medical services difficult. Furthermore, lack of night boat services added to the vulnerability of these Islanders.
Along with the splendid natural beauty, Kuttanad, Alappuzha has its cup of woes. Intermittent floods, heavy monsoon, and lack of motorable roads and other such infrastructure adversely affect the living conditions of this place. Since people live in small islands scattered throughout the lake, it is difficult for them to travel around along the criss-cross rivers and paddy fields. People from the remote interior parts of Kuttanad depend on boat service or a canoe for travel.
Because of the geographical peculiarities a number of people were suffering from diarrhoea and other waterborne epidemics, besides mosquito-borne diseases like chikunguniya, spreading in many parts of Kuttanad. The same situation prevailed in Vembanad area of Ernakulam district
In this scenario a mobile floating clinic was started in Kuttanad region of Alappuzha and Vembanad area (Kadamakkudy) in Ernakulam. The Floating Dispensary in Alappuzha covers the areas under THQH Pulinkkunnu, CHC Champakkulam, CHC Chempumpuram, PHC Edatua, PHC Thakazhy and PHC Ramankary in Alappuzha and covering 8 panchayats having a population of approximately 50,000. The Floating Dispensary in Ernakulam coming under the PHC Pizhala covers a population of 19707 in 11 Islands in the area. The floating dispensary having a Medical team comprising of one medical officer, Staff nurse and a pharmacist visits the jetties every day as per the predefined schedule.
Floating Dispensary could overcome the constraints in availing of health services to a great extend. In emergencies it is used as an ambulance too. In Ernakulam, till 30th September 2010, 45051(new OP-23280+Old OP-21771) people visited the dispensary for health care. The medical team of the dispensary is visiting about 30 boat jetties of the Kadamakkudy Panchayat as per the prescheduled plan and providing medical services for about 2 hours in each jetty. Now the service of the dispensary is available 2-3 times in each jetty in a month. The regular service is available in all week days except Sundays. On Sundays it will be available on an emergency basis.
Considering the success of floating dispensaries in Alappuzha and Ernakulam it is proposed to have two more dispensaries – One in Perumbalam Island in Alappuzha and another in Valanthakad area in Ernakulam and both these got approved from GoI.