On a rocky elevated surface, in scorching heat and moist air, sat Abu Bakar with his younger siblings, anxiously waiting to witness the new talk of the town. Men in uniforms were setting registration tents on the shore, while women and children gathered behind covered canopy in groups not less than 5. Everyone eagerly waited for the loud horn that would signal the arrival of the magnificent Boat. Not just any boat, but Pakistan’s First-Ever Boat Clinic by Indus Hospital & Health Network (IHHN)!
Abu Bakar, a 20-year-old boy had been complaining about liver pain and acidity for the past 4 years. He is a resident of a small Island in Bhong, in the district of Rajanpur, South Punjab, Pakistan. Surrounded by River Indus on all sides, he had to travel 3 hours to reach a small hospital in Sadaqabad to get himself tested. Unfortunately, the hospital did no good for him and his pain persisted. ‘They (Sadaqabad’s hospital) did nothing good, they did a lot of tests but diagnosed nothing. It’s like I wasted 3 hours of my life and almost half my income for nothing,’ said Abu Bakar once he got back from the hospital.
‘When I saw this huge ship, I thought the government was trying to spy on us, but then a cousin of mine visited this boat and came back with not only a diagnosis but a packet of free medicines as well. This is when I decided to visit and I’m so glad I did. Now, all 20 family members of mine visit the boat clinic for every small health-related issue,’ says Abu Bakar as he stepped down the boarding stairs of the boat.
IHHN’s boat clinic serves the vulnerable population of the Rajanpur district, where a doctor has never visited before. The catchment is home to approximately 105,000 people with 53% being women. Initiatives like these are the solution for many hopeless communities, who live far away from any development. Thousands of lives can now be saved which were otherwise compromised because of the time consumed during travel or lack of resources.