It was this August 15, at far-flung Nallong village under Tamei subdivision in Tamenglong district of Manipur. While the rest of the nation celebrated its 77th Independence day, several sick patients were transported on makeshift bamboo stretchers. Similar stories from the region hit the headlines in recent years. But nothing has changed yet. The story is the same. Villagers continue to live the ordeal.
Nallong village lies in a geographically remote settlement of the northernmost region of Tamenglong district under Tamei subdivision.
Due to lack of proper road infrastructure in the region and absence of health facilities in the area, as many as nine critically ill patients were carried on makeshift bamboo-made stretchers on India’s Independence Day. August 15, 2023. The patients and those carrying the patients had to pass through long distances of treacherous terrains to board a vehicle which would further transport them to the nearest hospital.
Sharing the incident to this Imphal Free Press correspondent, a church leader of Nallong village, reverend Tunchabou, said that on the fateful day of August 15, residents of the village, which is not connected to the main road network were compelled to carry nine sick patients on makeshift bamboo stretchers, locally called ‘Telai’ to board an ambulance so that they may be admitted at the nearest hospital.
On this August 15, at least nine persons aged about 25-60 started vomiting, felt sick with fever and diarrhea. They needed to go to the nearest health institutions, which are located in District Hospital Peren and Community Health Centre, Jalukie. Both lies on the other side of the state, in another state - Nagaland.
About 70 to 80 persons from the village, including volunteers from other neighboring villages carried the nine critically ill patients on makeshift stretchers. They passed along the rivers, high terrains and steep landscapes, Tunchabou said.
“Two ambulances were called from Dimapur (Nagaland) to board the ill patients to the Peren district hospital to be picked up immediately at Poilwa village in Peren of Nagaland, where the sick were transported from the village. Of the nine sick patients, six are critical while five have been discharged so far,” he said.
Nallong, Kuilong and Lemta villages in Tamei sub-division, Manipur, still do not have all-weather roads, he said, adding that the surrounding areas are also facing the lack of mobile network connectivity. Most parts in these places do not have motorable roads and are difficult to reach.
Whenever someone falls seriously ill and cannot walk, villagers have to carry them on makeshift bamboo stretchers and walk several kilometers through the forest and rough terrain to get treatment, he stated.
In the absence of easy access to basic health facilities and considering the difficult situation the villagers face, the village leader drew the state government's attention to look into the issue at the earliest. On behalf of the villagers, he appealed to the state government to ensure better connectivity with all-weather roads and communication network facility, so that the locals can access basic health facilities, which is their right.
He appealed for swift government action so that the villagers can stop carrying patients on makeshift stretchers in this advance digital age and enjoy the full spirit of the Nation’s Independence celebrations in the coming years. He appealed to all authorities concerned to reach out to the suffering villagers and help save lives.