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Floating Digital Clinic at sundarbans

The Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve (SBR, 1989) is the world’s largest delta and mangrove forest; it is a UNESCO heritage site. The region comprises an area of 9630 km2 including approximately 4200 km2 of globally important mangrove ecosystem. A network of interconnecting channels, canals and creeks divides the land into 102 islands, approximately half of which (54) are inhabited with a total population of over 4.4 million people.

The Sundarbans has a history of enduring storm surges and cyclones due to its unique geographical positioning – major cyclones in recent years include Fani (2019), Bulbul (2019), Amphan (2020), and Yaas (2021), causing unprecedented devastation in the delta region. These cyclones have resulted in the direct loss of nearly 250 lives and incurred a cumulative economic loss of almost USD 20 billion, affecting over a million people. The recent impact of climate change has heightened the frequency of these devastating events, leading to recurring tidal flooding, rise in sea levels, coastal inundation, increased exposure to storm surges, coastal erosion, and rising salinity in ground and surface waters. The cumulative impact of these climate changes has resulted in extreme poverty, consequent livelihood- linked migration and significant threats to human health in the region.

In order to address the lack of accessibility for basic healthcare, a ”Floating Digital Clinic’’ was established.

The purpose-modified fully equipped motor-boat (launch) delivers primary healthcare to residents of six (6) islands of Sundarbans. Professionally certified health workers (trained from among local SCST youth) provide services, supported by ‘remote’ real doctors (GP and Specialists) on a digital platform.

Through this, primary care and public health services are being delivered to poorest of the poor living in extremely fragile geographies constantly threatened by climate catastrophes. They spend their lives in choosing between starvation and the threat of violent encounters with wildlife.