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70-YO Doctor Treats Patients for Free in Remote Sunderbans For Over 20 Years

Padma Shri Dr Arunoday Mondal, a 70-year-old doctor, travels 160 km to Sundarbans every weekend to run his free clinic 'Sujan'. He has been treating over 12,000 patients every year for the past 23 years.

70-YO Doctor Treats Patients for Free in Remote Sunderbans For Over 20 Years

Every Saturday, Dr Arunoday Mondal wakes up before sunrise and prepares himself for a long journey to provide medical aid. From Kolkata, the 70-year-old doctor takes a train, auto, boat and bike, travelling more than 160 km to a remote area of Hingalganj in Sundarbans, to serve those who can’t access medical care.

He has been running a free medical service centre called Sujan here since 2000.

Growing up in Chandrakhali Panchayat area of Hingalganj, Dr Mondal saw from close quarters just how difficult it was for the residents to access a doctor or medicines. He saw people die from snakebites and mothers die during childbirth because they couldn’t reach a good medical facility in time.

Poor roads and bad connectivity make it tough even today for these residents to access care on time, which is why Dr Mondal’s Sujan is a blessing, as Government facilities just don’t cut it.

Inspired by his grandfather, a homoeopathic doctor, who would treat patients for free, Dr Mondal decided to follow in his footsteps. He completed his MBBS in Kolkata and worked at a children’s hospital for a few years, post which he set up his own practice in 1980.

But a voice at the back of his mind urged him to do something for the underprivileged in Sundarbans. He then started consulting patients for free at his house in Hingalganj, but in two years, the space didn’t suffice, which prompted him to set up Sujan, a two-storey centre.

The centre has eight medical staff who are present throughout the week for help. They conduct pathological tests, sonographies and CT scans. There is also a physiotherapy centre for the disabled and paralysed.

Dr Mondal was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2020 for his remarkable work. What really matters to him though, is the people’s trust and hope.

“The real honour is the love I get from people and their respect. That makes me more proud,” he says.

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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