Rotary boosts mobile cardiac care in Chennai

It is a great privilege for Rotary to “work collectively in healthcare projects with reputed hospitals and local governments, to scale up medical initiatives and expand their reach,” said RI director Anirudha ­Roychowdhury at an event to mark over 15,000 free mobile cardiac screenings and 20,000 ECG and ECHO tests done under Project Nalam (wellness), a flagship programme of RC Madras Central Aadithya, RID 3232.

Noting that this was his third visit to Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (SRIHER), a multispecialty hospital and deemed university on the outskirts of ­Chennai, the RID said the concept of free ­cardiac screening at the doorsteps of people was praiseworthy as “most of the beneficiaries do not have access to medical care.” He acknowledged the efforts of project mentor PDG Muthu Palaniappan and his team for conceiving the idea of a cardiac care bus and tying up with the hospital. Other clubs too can partner with this hospital in other disciplines of healthcare, he added.

Preventive healthcare will be the future of medicine in India, said TRF vice-chair Bharat Pandya, and called the mobile cardiac care unit “the need of the hour and need of society.” In India we are confronted with two extreme problems — “one set of people who don’t have time for check-up as they are busy tending to other matters all the time; and another set of people who do not have access to any form of medical care,” he said.

(From L) PDG S Muthu Palaniappan, GCC former chief medical officer Dr ­Hemalatha, project chairman K Balamurugan, RID Anirudha Roychowdhury, GCC regional deputy commissioner M P Amit, TRF vice-chair Bharat Pandya, DG Ravi Raman, RC Madras Central Aadithya president Syed Ashraff, and Ganeshan Suppiah, past president, RC Madras ­Coromandel, in front of the cardiac screening bus.

As 60 per cent deaths in India occur due to non-communicable ­diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, kidney ailments and cardiac diseases, Pandya said, “we are sitting on a big volcano with NCDs affecting the Indian population in the 45–50 age group, 15 years earlier than in Western nations where such diseases are found only among those in the age group of 65–70.” Mobile heart screening is an excellent project that “will spur other clubs to do more, attract more participation from other hospitals and government bodies,” he said. During weekly cardiac camps, Rotarians can distribute pamphlets, explain the screening process to patients, and provide counselling on hygiene for better living, he pointed out. “Through this medical project, we are seeing one more example of the power of the Foundation in doing good in the world,” he said.

Medical projects galore

Giving an overview of Project Nalam, PDG Palaniappan said, “it was conceived as a global grant project (₹1.3 crore) in the form of this cardiac care bus which was designed in partnership with SRIHER and handed over to the hospital in March 2022.” RC Klang, Malaysia, RID 3300, is the global partner. Till date, the mobile heart clinic has done 146 screening camps, thus  benefitting 15,266 patients, and ­conducted over 20,000 ECG and ECHO tests.

After the positive feedback on Project Nalam, “we are able to scale up our various other global grant projects worth over ₹5 crore that include 20 hybrid vision centres under Project Orange (₹2.35 crore); a dialysis ­centre ($88,000) with 11 machines at the Urban Health Centre, ­Thiruvottiyur, a joint project with the Tanker ­Foundation; while 2,650 cataract surgeries will be done in phases as a GG of $93,800 was sanctioned recently.” The club will soon flag off an Orange van for its vision centres, while two more vehicles will be pressed into service by other clubs, he said.

In due course, ENT and pulmonary buses would be flagged off, “for which we are in talks with our partner clubs. Donors are ready and we will shortly apply for GGs for these mobile clinics,” said Palaniappan. “We will do mega eye camps at government schools in a joint project with other clubs and the city corporation.”

SRIHER vice-chancellor Uma Sekar said, “The success of the mobile cardiac care is due to the coordinated efforts of all the stakeholders including the doctors of the cardiology department led by its HOD Dr S Ramesh, support staff and the ­technical team of the bus.”

Citing a WHO study that found 35 per cent of global mortality was due to cardiac illness, she said, “as heart attack strikes suddenly without warning, it is all the more important to go for preventive screening.” During the camps that were held twice a week, “we had identified at least 450 abnormal cases that needed further intervention and hospital treatment.” Fifty per cent of those screened were antenatal women, that means, two lives were involved. More than the treatment, “our approach is in preventive care for those who can’t afford medical care. In the next three years, we aim to screen 50,000 people, building on the progress we have made so far.”

Regional deputy ­commissioner M P Amit from the Chennai Corporation invited Rotary to join the civic body in other healthcare initiatives of the government. “I want to replicate the success of Rotary’s mobile cardiac check-up in our programmes and public health initiatives,” he said. Speaking to Rotary News, project chair K Balamurugan said, “Camps are held twice a week across the 18 urban health centres of the Greater Chennai Corporation.” Now the civic body wants to avail the services of the mammography bus too, a GG project of RCs Madras Vadapalani, Madras West and The Hills-Kellyvile, RID 9685, Australia, following the success of the mobile cardiac care project.

The hospital team led by Dr H Thamizhchelvan, dean, Sri ­Ramachandra Dental College and Hospital; the cardiology faculty led by HOD Ramesh; DRFC B ­Dakshayani who helped the club in selecting the bus chassis builder; ­Balamurugan and his team; and ­SRIHER ­former V-C P V Vijayaraghavan were ­felicitated on the occasion. Club ­president Syed Ashraff welcomed the  delegates including DG Ravi Raman, DGE Mahaveer Bothra, DGN D Devendran, DGND Shriram ­Duvvuri, all from RID 3233, PDGs A Subramaniam, N Nandakumar and R Srinivasan.

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