In present time when healthcare giants are infamous for swindling patients and organizational impassivity, such stories of selfless individuals bring back the faith. Dr. Yagnadatta Rath, who walked on foot over 1.5km, crossed a river and hiked a mountain in Odisha’s Kandhamal district on Sunday to provide timely medical assistance to a tribal woman in labor.

Sitadadu Raita, a 23-year-old Kutia Kondh tribal woman, went into labor while on her way to a hospital. A first-time mother, she had already given birth to a girl by the time Dr. Rath reached her. However, her placenta had not come out. After providing the mother-child with initial post-natal care, they were rushed to the health center in an ambulance. Though Balam, Raita’s village, is 7km away from the health center, it can be reached only on foot by climbing a hill and crossing a river seven times.

When Raita, accompanied by her husband/family, delivered midway, Tumudibandha block development officer was informed and Dr. Rath immediately left. Now under medical supervision, Raita and her newborn are safe and would be discharged today.

Rath is a 29-year-old ad-hoc doctor at Tumudibandha community health center in Odisha’s Kandhamal, known to be a Maoist stronghold. He did his MBBS six years ago from Bhubaneswar’s Institute of Medical Science and SUM Hospital. His wife is also a doctor at Tumudibandha.

Dr. Rath’s is the latest in a series of instances of doctors going out of their way to help patients in Odisha, one of India’s poorest states. Malkangiri district, October 2017: Dr. Omkar Hota carried a tribal woman bleeding after childbirth for 10km over three hours through forests. Nabarangpur district, May 2013: Three doctors donated blood to save a tribal woman from post-delivery complications.

The young doctor’s actions have made him a poster boy for Odisha’s healthcare system, which came in for widespread criticism in 2016, when visuals of tribal farmer Dana Majhi walking with his wife’s corpse on his shoulders played endlessly across media platforms.  Rath’s prompt action has come in for praise. Netra Manseth, a social worker in Tumudibandha, said, “He is an inspiration for doctors in our district.”

“When I reached the spot, the woman had delivered a girl, but her placenta had not come out. Normally, there is a lot of bleeding at this stage. Luckily, nothing of that sort had happened,” said Rath. “I asked the men to move away a little so that I could give her a little privacy. The baby weighed around 2.1 kg.”

The state health and family welfare department commended Rath for his dedication. “We are proud of such role models in the department,” the department stated in a Facebook post.

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