Jul 10 2013, 10:42pm CDT | by Luigi Lugmayr
London, July 11 — A documentary film, "Where there are no roads", on the unique boat clinics that ply on the Brahmaputra in Assam, has been screened to international audiences of scholars, media, writers, area specialists, students and professionals in Vienna and London.
The latest screening was held at the Indian government's main cultural venue, the Nehru Centre, in London Wednesday to an attentive audience which interacted extensively with film maker Sanjoy Hazarika, who introduced the film and responded to questions afterwards, especially on how Assam, which has India's worst Maternal Mortality Ratio, is improving dramatically these past years.
The film portrays the difficulties of taking healthcare through specialized boats on the Brahmaputra, an initiative of the Centre for Northeast Studies and Policy Research, and how a simple idea and initiative today reaches nearly a million persons in Assam with sustained healthcare.
The project started small, with focus on one district and a tiny team. Today, nearly 250 persons, including doctors, nurses and lab technicians as well as pharmacists and organizers run the programme in 13 districts. The principal partner is the National Rural Health Mission of the state government, which funds the campaign.
"It shows how in partnership with the principal stakeholder, commitment and courage, sustained health care can become a reality for lakhs of ordinary people," said Hazarika.
In Vienna, the film was one of the main events at the inaugural programme July 4 of an international three-day conference of over 75 scholars from across Europe, the United States and India who are working on issues relating to ethnography, anthropology, politics and sociology in the region.
Their subjects ranged from lifestyle changes among hill groups in the North-East Region to the crisis of conflict in the Bodo tribal areas, the challenges posed by repressive laws that give special powers to the armed forces as well as displacement and flooding and its impact on ordinary people in the flood plains of the mighty Brahmaputra river.
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