For Ram, an 8-year-old boy from Mukroh village on the borders of Assam, a common cold and fever are “a normal thing. He has fever once or twice a month and this is the case for many children in our village,” says his mother, Hema Devi. At a recent medical camp conducted by RCs Jowai and Orchid City Shillong, RID 3240, doctors were shocked to find that almost all the children in the village had a Vitamin D deficiency “which resulted in poor immune system leading to frequent spells of cold and fever,” says Dr Ruchika Lato, member of RC Jowai.
While the children were given four free dosages of Vitamin D supplements, over 200 adults were screened at the camp for blood sugar and hypertension. Free scanning and haemoglobin, among other tests, were done on pregnant women who were later given iron and folic acid tablets. Doctors conducted an awareness programme on menstrual health and hygiene and the importance of maintaining a balanced diet. Medicines worth ₹65,000 were distributed at the camp.
“Through these camps we are able to collect medical data to gain a better picture of the existing health deficiencies in people in a specific village or area. This allows us to plan and execute other projects that can provide effective preventative solutions for these deficiencies, ” says Devesh Wallia, president, RC Orchid City Shillong. A good example of this integrated approach, he points out, is that “many Rotary clubs in the North East have distributed smoke-free chullas in villages where women suffer breathing problems. Likewise, we could plan our next project to improve the immunity of these children.”
Samhi Lallo, president of RC Jowai, says “People from rural areas do not have easy access to medicines and doctors. Some do not have the money to get any treatment or buy medicines. A medical camp like this is a boon for them.” The two clubs have been conducting regular medical check-up in villages in this region, equipping hospitals with life-saving facilities and recognising the contribution of health workers by giving them awards.
The camp was organised at Christ School, Mukroh, where RC Orchid City Shillong is reconstructing the school’s main building and improving its infrastructure. “We want to establish a safe physical space for teachers and students to engage in learning and offer basic utilities like drinking water and clean toilets for them. In the process of doing so, we have also gained the communities’ trust, which is important.” says Wallia.