Connecting the Unreachable: Transforming Healthcare in Remote Villages

2 min read

Until last year, falling sick in Kathirimalai was a luxury no one could afford. This mountain-top village, nestled deep inside the Chennampatti forest reserve in Erode district, lacked roads, electricity, and relied on donkeys as the primary mode of transportation. Accessing healthcare at a facility nearly 40 km away was nearly impossible.

However, things changed nine months ago when District Collector H Krishnanunni and his team devised a plan. The district administration introduced Punnagai (Tamil for smile), an ambitious initiative that utilized high-speed, 5GHz WiFi internet to connect Kathirimalai with the outside world.

Now, with a doctor just a click away on the computer screen at the local school, residents of Kathirimalai are all smiles. Through virtual consultations, they receive medical advice and prescriptions, making healthcare more accessible. The WiFi project has transformed the village, bringing it closer to civilization.

Krishnanunni hailed the WiFi project as a prime example of the impact internet access can have on remote villages. This innovative approach earned him the Excellence in Governance Award for 2020 and 2021, recognizing his efforts in improving the lives of villagers.

The telemedicine project faced initial challenges due to the lack of communication infrastructure in the area. To overcome this, Krishnanunni’s team implemented a WiFi network, with technical support from various agencies. The initiative has not only revolutionized healthcare but also enhanced education in the region.

As the success of the ‘Kathirimalai healthcare project’ continues to unfold, the Erode district administration plans to expand the initiative to other remote areas in the Western Ghats. Despite concerns about sustainability, villagers remain hopeful, citing Krishnanunni’s dedication to the WiFi project as a source of optimism.

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