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Slum Doctor Project

17th January 2011

Healthcare professionals are being invited to join an expanding project which provides a lifeline to people in a poverty-stricken region of India.

The Slum Doctor Project has gone from strength to strength since launching a series of small diabetes clinics in 2004 – with more than 6,000 patients seen during the latest trip in March 2010. Volunteers are now being sought for the next expedition in March 2011.

Clinics are set up to deliver life-saving treatment to a community in the Punjab during every visit.  The main focus was originally diabetes, which is prevalent in Asian populations. More recently other conditions are treated.

Project manager Dr Bangar, who works as a diabetes consultant at Calderdale Royal Hospital, in Halifax, said: “As well as giving life-saving treatment we have given people their sight back by performing cataracts and enabled patients to hear by fitting hearing aids.

“This is a great opportunity for healthcare professionals to come to India and make a massive difference to the lives of people who are in urgent need of help, and it is a real life-changing experience.”

A team of six doctors and nurses flew out in March, and along with a team of healthcare professionals from India, saw 1,000 patients at the camp on a daily basis. The trip provided the following care:

  • About 650 people screened for diabetes
  • More than 500 people either commenced oral medications or had their dose increased
  • 20 were taught blood glucose monitoring
  • 10 started insulin
  • 96 cataract operations performed
  • 400 people provided with hearing aids
  • Scans, x-rays, blood tests and minor operations performed on over 600

The clinics are based at the Baba Braham Dass High school, in Phillaur. Dr Vijay Bangar began running clinics in the small town of Phillaur seven years ago. Dr Bangar started the clinic after a discussion with a monk from a monastery in the area during a holiday. The monk who practiced traditional medicine suggested the idea of offering western medicine alongside his alternative approach to healthcare.

Dr Bangar has since made a number of return visits to the area, running the clinics for about a week on each occasion. He then formed the charity.

Tracey Clay – a Healthcare Development Manager and former Diabetes Specialist Nurse, from the Scunthorpe area – joined the project for the last trip in March 2009.

Recalling her experiences from the 2010 trip, she said: “You know we live in a society where the health service is free at the point of care. 

“The hospitals in the UK have their challenges with MRSA and Norovirus yet when you visit a hospital as I did and you see rusty beds and rusty oxygen cylinders and neonatal ITU cots which do not look fit for purpose it does make you think about how fortunate we are.
“These trips to India have touched me and each of my senses and I hope it has inspired you a little.”

She added: “These people have walked for miles across dust or pebbled tracks often bear footed in scorching temperatures then waited for several hours to be offered a five minute appointment.”

Healthcare professionals are now needed for the March 2011 trip. Any volunteers would need to raise money to pay for flights and accommodation. Interested parties can email slumdoctor@hotmail.co.uk 

For more information visit: www.slumdoctor.co.uk or the type ‘Slum Doctor Project’ into Facebook.

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