MANGALURU: After completing MD (Doctor of Medicine in Community Medicine), everyone expected Edmond Fernandes to follow the traditional route of practising medicine in a hospital or private clinic. But he surprised his peers and teachers by walking the less trodden path: examining the ills that plague our public health system and finding an antidote for it.Those close to Dr Fernandes knew that the young doctor’s heart was set on redressing the larger issue of health. Barely 26, the doctor has already participated in three relief missions, including the recent Gujarat floods, as part of his mission.
“My first relief mission was in Philippines, which was destroyed by Haiyan Typhoon in 2013,’’ recalls Dr Fernandes. The typhoon had claimed 6,300 lives. He was next involved in providing help to residents of Chennai, who were ravaged by the worst-ever floods in 2015. It was possible for the health consultant to get involved and render help post disasters as the Centre for Health and Development, which he heads, has strategic partnership with different institutions working in areas of disaster management.
A strategic partnership with New Delhi-based SEEDS had helped Dr Fernandes lead a medical team to Gujarat. “SEEDS oversaw rehabilitation services in schools, with logistical help from corporates,” he says. In all, 362 patients attended their health camps conducted in rural pockets of Banaskantha district between August 11 and 15. “Banaskantha, the worst-hit district, had witnessed 61 deaths. Nearly 80,000 people were displaced by floods. “He warned that if a cleanliness drive is not initiated at the earliest, there will soon be water-borne and vector-borne diseases.
The abject poverty in the villages, says Dr Fernandes, has been a revelation. “They are at least half-a-century behind. Women are still backward. A woman attending a health camp complained of acute eye pain but refused to lift the veil and allow me to examine her eye,’’ he said.