Touching many lives

Chennai: Being a good doctor is duty, but being an impactful one is great. In Madurai, there would be around 15 girls with the name Suthanthira Devi- they are named after the doctor who delivered them.

Meet Dr Suthanthira Devi (71), a veteran in High Risk Obstetrics and Gynecology who currently works as a senior consultant at a private hospital in Velacheri.

From February, she will be serving as a visiting doctor at a small hospital run by a trust on 100-Feet-Road, free of cost. In her career, Suthanthira Devi, who was a government doctor, has attended deliveries of more than a lakh babies during her service in rural areas.

“In a day, during a single shift I had attended an average of 15 to 20 deliveries. Since it is a medical college and hospital, as many as 40 deliveries are recorded daily.” She says working in rural areas is not a bed of roses. “There was no separate room for the duty doctor. Sometimes, I stayed with the patient who is due for delivery.”

She says from 1973 to 1988, every patient in her career had a natural birth. ‘There was no medicine, needles or surgeries. There was no ‘C’ section performed. Now that concept of natural birthing is making a comeback.’ She has a role to play in the government taking up the case of high female infanticide. In 1987, she had written an impactful article on female infanticide in a magazine.

‘A mother killed her own girl child. After the article, there was severe action by the government. The couple was put in jail and scan centers were stopped from revealing the gender of a baby. Awareness began building around it.’ Having worked as a Family Planning Officer, she says one lakh family planning surgeries were done. “I have worked as a project officer in Madurai Medical College and five districts were under my control including Theni, Ramanathapuram, Palani and Sivagangai.”

Speaking about the neighbourhood she said, “Velacheri has a mixed community of people. It needs a service-minded hospital.”
So what does the doctor think about the mushrooming fertility centres?  “Married couples must have a baby as early as possible. These fertility clinics have become a business.”

Naomi N