AIPNO Medical Yatra 2016
| As the annual pilgrimage goes, AarogyaSeva was again part of 2016 Medical Yatra in Gujarat which ran from 23rd January to 30th January in collaboration with the following organisations:
No. of overseas Doctors: 14
No. of overseas volunteers: 37 (non-medical)
No. of patients seen: ~4000
No. of sites visited: 10
No. of local volunteers: ~100
Volunteer hours (based on average 6 hour day for 37 volunteers): 1110 + ~5000 hours
|It brought 37 both medical professionals and general volunteers from USA, UK, India and Australia in conjunction with local health workers, Rotarians and ARCH workers. We had with us a mix of internal/family doctors, emergency physicians, paediatricians, obstetrics/gynaecologists, dentists and an orthopaedic surgeon. Apart from seeing the patients we also conducted CPR and dental hygiene education sessions as well as have patients take part in blood pressure research.|
Under-nutrition was a massive problem with 14-16 year old teenagers looking like they were 9-10 years old. The adults on the other hand looked much older than they should be due to physical outdoor labour with in many cases extremely high blood sugars and blood pressures.
Language was another challenge with local tribal languages being spoken in many instances as opposed to Gujarati or Hindi which become a case requiring up to 3 interpreters sometimes depending on the translator and Doctor.
- all who came were strong, happy and didn’t complain about the wait or their lot in life with physical examinations easy due to the lack of fat (many of those in their 40s/50s had six pack abs!)
- Biggest issues were undernutrition, undiagnosed hypertension, diabetes, goitres, cataracts, dry skin and cavities
- Introduction of fluoride, reduced salt and sugar diets and iodised salt would greatly assist these communities as part of preventable health schemes
- Girls were particularly shy with all being curious particularly around the tall Americans, our smart phones and cameras
All of us came with open hearts, warm smiles, positive and flexible attitudes and a sense of humour but left with so much more. We have much to learn from each other and language is not a barrier.
I would highly recommend going on Medical Yatra as it is so much more than volunteering with an amazing bunch of people and seeing the countryside and interacting with the locals in a unique way as it includes component of spirituality as we stayed at Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur and were even fortunate enough to have an audience with Baba Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai. More about the Ashram and their work is here: http://www.shrimadrajchandramission.org/
AIPNO was founded in 1983 and is a non-profit membership organisation of physicians of Indian origin in Northern Ohio. It has membership of 300 physicians and have they organised Medical Yatras since 2001. They have provided aid to Mexico, Haiti, Peru, Ecuador, Uganda, Kenya, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Burundi and India. What is amazing is that the volunteers who came were in the late 60s and 70s who were either semi retired or retired. Visit their website http://www.aipno.org/ for more information
ARCH currently provides provides primary health care services to approximately 25,000 patients along with basic health education and preventative services such as vaccinations and prenatal care. In addition they provide movie health camps in surrounding villages. More about them can be found here: http://www.archgujarat.org/