By Dr Arun Mitra
During several visits to the Singhu and Tikri borders where farmers are protesting for the repeal of farm laws since 26th November 2020, every time it is more enthusing than the previous visit to watch the commitment and spirit among them. Staying in the tractor trolleys or makeshift hutments away from the families is not an easy task. In such situations anyone is prone to health problems, more so the elderly, women and children. Stress of staying away from their kith and kin is quite disturbing.
At home, one has so many things to discuss among the family members, relations and friends. There are always many positive and negative events that happen in life which a family sorts out together. But staying here far away from their family members for too long, the day to day physical meeting with each other discussing the family issues is missing. It affects the elderly even more who now miss the happiness and charm of playing with grandchildren.
Here they have to live with the unknown people and interact with them. Each family has its own issues and problems which are confidential and cannot be talked of with the unknown people. Somebody taken ill in the family, some happy occasions in the family, some wedding, some birthday or some other events, happiness and sadness always keep occurring in the human life. But togetherness of a family and concern for each other keeps us going.
Food and nutrition are so important a factor in life. To be healthy to work we need quality food. There is always a choice of food with every person. But here in a gathering like this that choice is completely missing. One has to eat whatever is provided at the community kitchen or langar. To make good food the vegetables need to be thoroughly cleaned and properly peeled off, prevented from flies, utensils need to be properly washed time and again. Drinking water glasses need to be cleaned hygienically.
In the set up camps like this it is not possible at all. One cannot ensure hygienic supply of food or even the clean plates to eat food. The surroundings where the food is cooked cannot be maintained in a hygienic manner for so long a period. Even though they spray insecticides regularly but in such large gatherings where there are no facilities provided by the government, rather the government is hostile, chances of getting ill due to unclean food items always persists.
There is always a danger to fall prey to vector borne diseases like malaria and dengue. Staying with unknown people one is more prone to catch infectious diseases like Flu, Tuberculosis and other respiratory illnesses.
Another issue is the absence of proper clean toilets which is so essential in such situations. They have made some makeshift toilets but then there is a need for regular water supply and clean up staff trained for the job. This is even more important for the female folk who are there in large number.
Emergencies are difficult to treat in such situations. There have been some patients who suddenly landed up into cardiac, neurological or gastrointestinal emergencies. Such patients need to be managed effectively and on emergency basis. For such patients family support has great emotional value. Chances of losing life by the patients in such conditions is more than the normal circumstances. At home one can also go in for regular check up from the doctors. This can many a times prevent serious illness.
Therefore the people sitting there are seen to be suffering from both communicable and non-communicable diseases. As the number of people above age of 60 is substantial, it is imminent that they have developed old age problems like the joint pains and back ache. Skin diseases are rampant. Diseases like Diabetes and Hypertension need constant care which can-not be provided in make shift camps.
Every visit is a challenge for the doctors and staff accompanying the medical team. The medical teams by the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) have been holding medical Camps of various specialties including Eye, ENT, Cardiac, Orthopaedics, Physiotherapy and Dental. The farmers have been fitted with Hearing Aids as well as Spectacles as per the requirement.
The commitment and will of the farmers however enthuses the health staff. It is the un-daunting spirit among the farmers despite several health issues that they are continuing their protest with vow to stay till victory. They are ready to sacrifice to any extent because they are convinced that the acts passed by the government will starve them otherwise also. Even under such arduous conditions they maintain regular discipline in their life, waking up on time in the morning, some of them do some exercise. Youth plays the games like volleyball to stay fit. Elderly take a stroll around the place of their stay. To bring cheer to their life they sing songs and celebrate all the festivals of different beliefs together. It is the togetherness that fills them with un-daunting spirit of sacrifice to the last for the cause despite several physical and mental health problems. (IPA Service)