For three days — March 31 to April 2 — 19 villages in Madhya Pradesh were transformed into hubs of medical activity, thanks to the RAHAT camps organised by District 3040 under a global grant, in partnership with District 6900, US. Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) led by PDG Alicia Michael and RC Burhanpur, D 3040, the lead club, executed the project.
“RAHAT is the acronym for Rotary’s Active Hands Are Touching and we have ‘touched’ over 60,000 patients across the State; 5,000 people were referred for further treatment to government hospitals,” said PDG Ravi Prakash Langer, Chairman, RAHAT camp. About 1,000 Rotarians and 350 Rotaractors worked for the success of the camp, put up at a cost of nearly $100,000.
The villages were chosen keeping in mind their accessibility to medical services and the needs of their population, said DG Darshan Singh Gandhi. An exclusive booth at each centre was given to government officials to popularise the State’s health schemes. “Most villagers are not aware of these welfare schemes, so along with the PHC staff, these officials explained to people how to avail these free medical services,” said Langer.
This mega health project involved months of preparations ranging from “budget planning, coordinating with the doctors, distributing pamphlets and advertisements in the local dailies and social media to create awareness in the villages. We also involved the panchayat officials and village headmen,” said Gandhi.
PRID Shekhar Mehta and Alicia from RFHA inaugurated the camp. The clubs tied up with other non-profit organisations, private hospitals and the State unit of the National Health Mission (NHM). Each camp had over 100 doctors, besides paramedical staff from private and government hospitals, to take care of patients.
This is the sixth year the district is organising a RAHAT camp. It all began in February 2011, when PRIP Rajendra Saboo and a team of 17 doctors conducted a mega health camp in Chindwara, in which nearly 74,000 people were screened. It turned out to be a landmark project for the district. In the following years, RAHAT camps were held in Jhabua, Vidisha and Neemuch as standalone projects. In 2016, the health project was executed at 25 places for the first time, benefitting 80,000 patients.
Rotary’s push to healthcare
There are 21 diseases for which free surgery is being done at government hospitals and 300 types of medicines are given free at dispensaries under the NHM umbrella, said Langer. “Our aim is to make both the urban and rural poor aware of the social and medical benefits available in the State. The doctors at the RAHAT camps screened patients for nearly 26 diseases from general health to specialties like ENT, orthopaedics, cardiac and nephrology,” he added.