- Dr. Dandekar does not charge any fee from the poor
- He travels barefoot, inspires others to learn to live with minimum things
- He has been visiting patients on his bicycle for last 60 years
New Delhi: At a time when COVID-19 pandemic has forced most senior citizens to stay inside their homes as they are more vulnerable to the infection, the 87-year-old Dr. Ramchandra Dandekar in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra has been going out of his way to provide healthcare to the poor families in the nearby villages. Braving this time of crisis, the doctor who practices Homeopathy and Ayurveda travels about 15 kilometres on his bicycle every day to visit his patients and help the villagers with free doorstep treatment.
While talking to NDTV about his efforts, Dr. Dandekar said that that he has been visiting patients in the villages of Mul, Pombhurna and Ballarshah talukas of Chandrapur district for last 60 years. He said,
For the last 60 years, I have worked for helping the poor people in villages. When COVID-19 pandemic started, my relatives and friends told me to stop going to villages and stay at home but how could I? For a doctor, his patients’ health comes first. So, I continued visiting the villages. I will keep serving people till my limbs are working.
He further said that in his prime he used to cover 4-5 villages in a day and would even stay out for a day but due to growing age he now returns to his house at night.
Undeterred by the ongoing health crisis, Dr. Dandekar wakes up at 5 AM and starts his day with Yoga and by 7 AM he leaves his house for visiting villages. According to his daughter-in-law Kishori Dandekar who is also a Doctor and practises at her private clinic, Dr. Dandekar comes back from his visits by 5:30-6 PM, takes a bath and cleans his belongings before entering the house. She said,
Coronavirus is deadly for the elderlies but my father-in-law worries more about the people in the villages. Now when a lot of people who lost their livelihoods during the lockdown are back in their villages, the risk of transmission of the virus has increased. When he finds the condition of a patient deteriorating, he even takes them to government hospital and consults with his friends in allopathy medicine about what the next steps should be. He never asks for a fee. Those who are poor get the treatment for free and those who can afford are free to give any amount as fee as per their capabilities, just to cover the cost of medicines.
Dr. Dandekar’s elder son who is a pharmacist said that the elderly doctor has a fixed timetable for his visits to villages on weekdays and carries his medical kit and medicines with him.
After completing his diploma from the Nagpur College of Homeopathy in 1957-58, Ramchandra Dandekar worked as a lecturer at the Chandrapur Homeopathy College for a year, before shifting to rural areas to serve in villages. For 56-year-old Ramesh Apte, a resident of a village in Mul, Dr. Dandekar is like a God. He said,
Dr. Ramchandra is really like an avatar of Lord Ram to us. He is the only doctor who has been visiting the village regularly even during the corona pandemic. He reaches us at any time on a single call and has never said ‘no’ to any patient. He has helped many people in our village.
Dr. Dandekar gave up wearing footwear about 50 years ago and travels barefoot. He inspires people to learn to live with the minimum essential items. He said,
With less things, you will have less things to be bothered about. This practice will aid in your mental and physical health.
On how to stay fit and healthy during the ongoing pandemic, Dr. Dandekar said that first and foremost, the younger generation should stop fearing the virus and must learn to fight it smartly by following the recommended safety measures at all cost. Secondly, he prescribed spending more time in doing physical activities instead of sitting at one place for long hours. He also emphasised on eating healthy and meditating for a stronger mind and body.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.[corona_data_new]