Last year, when Rajendra Singhal began his presidential tenure at RC Delhi Regency, D 3011, he introduced a programme to extend eyecare services to the rural regions in and around the national Capital. Thus was born the project of monthly two-day eye check-up camps in villages located around 120–180 km from Delhi. The project continues this year too.
Singhal has set up an exclusive Rotary Desk at his office to coordinate and plan an eye camp every month. A schedule is drawn up to hold an eye camp in a region where there are little or no medical services. “We first identify the locality, meet the panchayat officials and create awareness among the people about the camp so that they can register and get screened at the booths,” he explains.
The club has tied up with the Venu Eye Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi, which deputes a six-member team of doctors who examine at least 300 patients a day. After a thorough eye check-up at the camp, those in need of further tests or cataract operations are brought to the hospital.
Each month the club pays ₹2.5 lakh to the hospital for helping it organise the rural camps. “The fund is mobilised by our members, some being our corporate sponsors. In 2002, we had set up an eye bank at the hospital under a global grant. It gets nearly 400 organs from deceased donors in a year, of which 75 per cent are good enough for use,” says Singhal. The hospital deploys its 45-seater bus for the camps.
“Over 5,000 people have benefitted from our camps, of which around 720 patients have undergone cataract procedure so far. On an average, 55 patients are taken to Venu Hospital for cataract every month,” says Singhal. This year the club has set aside `30 lakh for its monthly camps and the timetable and logistics have already been worked out for the next six months.
Village Pradhan Choudhary Kartar Singh in Muzaffarnagar district, UP, 140 km from Delhi, says his people are “always grateful to Rotary for providing medical facilities to senior citizens and the unemployed living in far-flung areas where there is no hope for such healthcare delivery.” Last year, eye camps benefitted the villages of Muzaffarnagar, UP; Rohtak and Mewat areas of Haryana. Free cataract surgery is done for patients recommended by Rotarians.