A particular morning of November 2020 began like any other, with N Uday Reddy, Deputy Superintendent of Police, conducting a routine field visit. The 30-year-old officer was in the tribal hamlet of Jamda village in the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) area, as part of community relations development.
During the visit, an elderly person walked up to him with a written application. The paper carried a request seeking medical care for 20 people in the area who had lost their vision due to cataract and other eye ailments. The request took precedence, as the remote villages are cut off from urban areas, making it difficult for them to access proper healthcare.
What began as an endeavour to help these 20 villagers has now scaled up to benefit around 300 in the past two months. Moreover, Reddy, who is from Utnoor in Adilabad district, has taken the task to help treat these elderly people out of his own expense.
“I, along with other subordinates, make frequent visits to 552 remote villages under my jurisdiction. Residents often demand temporary roads in forest areas, clean water provisions, electricity, and other daily needs. But this was the first time a health-related request came from the elderly,” he says.
A service for all
Uday wrote to concerned departments, forwarding the request from villagers, but received no response. A few weeks later, he wrote to the L V Prasad Eye Institute and Amma Diagnostics, requesting medical assistance. The doctors agreed to screen the patients and suggest treatment accordingly.
He says that the officers also reached out to other villages to identify elderly persons suffering from vision ailments. About 600 patients were screened and registered for treatment. However, they could not afford to pay for surgeries, eye wear, pre-operative screening, and other treatments. Deeply troubled by this, Reddy decided to pay for the procedures with his own salary.
“There was a need to intervene and address health issues of the villagers. I believe in good work, and could manage the expenses,” he says, adding that over 70 eye surgeries are complete so far, and over 550 medical camps have been held to screen and identify patients.
The identified patients are taken to the police station on bikes, and transported to the hospital in buses. They are sent back after treatment is complete. Of the 600 patients scheduled to be treated by doctors, about 300 patients were attended to, and others will be treated by March.
‘Independence for the elderly’
Durgu Patel, head of the adivasi community of Adilabad, says the police officer has helped the locals gain better control of their lives. “The eye ailments limited the villager’s ability to move around, especially at night. The medical camps and operations have made the elderly more independent,” he says.
Uday says that other than addressing health concerns, his team is also working to involve the youth in the community. “The aim is to understand individual requirements for education, organise job fairs, sports events, and make them aware of cybercrime and fake news, as well as job opportunities in the police department. Corporates such as Amazon, Flipkart, and others, have recruited people from this area,” he says.
The officer, who is yet to complete a year of duty, says his wife and family support him in the cause. “I have less personal expenses, and can manage to help the needy over the next couple of years as well,” he adds.
Edited by Divya Sethu