Local governments and the states play a critical role in the development of an ecosystem for a medical service project which the Rotary clubs are doing in collaboration with hospitals and NGOs, said RI director Anirudha Roychowdhury. “As government agencies are key stakeholders, clubs must partner with them for medical projects for better reach and achieving their targets,” he advised, after flagging off the Project Kamalam Udayar Mobile Mammography Centre, a cancer screening bus, on the campus of Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (SRIHER) in Chennai.
RCs Madras Vadapalani, Madras West, RID 3232, and The Hills-Kellyville, RID 9685, Australia, have come together for this global grant project worth $170,000. A non-profit family trust also has contributed ₹25–30 lakh for the vehicle.
Recalling PM Narendra Modi’s advice to PRIP Shekhar Mehta to highlight the GoI’s Poshan Abhiyaan, an integrated national nutritional mission covering pregnant women, girls and children below six, during the latter’s visit to other countries as Rotary president, Roychowdhury urged the clubs to execute a joint nutritional project worth $2 million in the field of women and childcare with the support of the social welfare department. “Paediatric heart surgeries can be done at the Sri Ramachandra Hospital just like children from Afghanistan, Kenya and Ghana are being operated at hospitals in Raipur, Bengaluru and Kolkata,” he suggested, and complimented IPDG N Nandakumar for doing service projects worth ₹80 crore during his tenure. He expressed hope that Rotary’s corporate project, End Polio, which was started in 1985, is “nearing the end of the tunnel with just five cases reported this year in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and we will be able to eradicate it totally in another 3–4 years.” The recently launched Programs of Scale project in Zambia to fight malaria at a cost of $6 million has brought down the mortality ratio drastically in that country, he noted.
Two more buses
The mammography bus is the third project at the SRIHER, after the launch of the cardiac care bus by RC Madras Central Aadithya in March 2022; and the setting up of a dialysis unit with 10 machines during the term of PDG J Sridhar, said Nandakumar. The cardiac care bus, worth ₹2 crore, has screened 10,000 patients so far, he added, and thanked project chief coordinator Dr Tamizhchelvan, dean, Sri Ramachandra Dental College and Hospital, for monitoring the mobile mammography project at various stages. “Two more mammography buses will be flagged off soon with the support of private hospitals,” he said, and recalled that 10 mammogram devices were distributed to government hospitals, PHCs and NGO clinics in and around Chennai under Project Shakti, which aims to create awareness on early screening for breast and cervical cancer among women. The vehicle will be operated and maintained by the hospital, with the paramedical staff screening people at medical camps in rural areas.
DG Ravi Raman commended the three partner clubs for joining hands to “do a phenomenal work, a project that will help the downtrodden people in and around Chennai.” The state government is ready to partner with Rotary in creating awareness on breast and cervical cancer through mammography buses, said V Amuthavalli, commissioner for TN Social Welfare department. “We will depute SHG members and paramedics on these mobile clinics to reach out to the communities,” she said. “All the 55,000 anganwadis in the state can be used to spread the message of early cancer screening, detection and timely treatment,” she said.
SRIHER vice-chancellor Dr Uma Sekar said that in India, “younger women are more vulnerable to cancer; and early detection and treatment is the only way forward.” The hospital has conducted around 50 medical and dental camps jointly with Rotary clubs. “The cardiac bus has helped identify 284 patients for surgery at their hospital of choice; among them, 38 had undergone surgery, while 70 patients are waiting for their turn.” With the support of Rotary and the Chennai Corporation, antenatal camps are being held regularly under Project Nalam, she said.
Speaking to Rotary News, project coordinator Boovaragan from RC Madras Vadapalani said, “the mammography bus has a target to screen 2,000 women annually with the support of the corporation, hospitals, PHCs and NGOs in Chennai and its neighbouring districts.” PDGs I S A K Nazar, Muthupalaniappan, former DRFC M Ambalavanan, DGE Mahaveer Bothra (RID 3233), and DGN Vinod Saraogi (RID 3234) were honoured for their contributions to the mammography project.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran