In March, Dr. Swaiman Singh organized a series of medical camps in three cities in the state of Punjab, India, where he grew up. In each of the camps, in Pakhoke, Jalandhar, and Ludhiana, large numbers of residents turned out for preventive care check-ups, health screenings, and other medical services.
“We saw around 4,000 patients on our first camp day, as reported by local media,” said Dr. Singh, American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine Class of 2015. “After the camps, we did personal follow-ups in two out of three places. The Pakhoke camp received five days of follow-up, and the Jalandhar camp had two days. The Ludhiana camp received follow-up over the phone by us and in person through local doctors there.”
A team of physicians from a wide variety of fields, including surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, oncology, dental, and ophthalmology, joined Dr. Singh. Several nonprofit organizations donated medication, and Mai Bhago College of Nursing students and instructors volunteered to help.
Dr. Singh said the goals for the camps were to learn about the diseases that are affecting the local populations in different parts of India, to see what he and others can do to help in the future, and to build enthusiasm around social work in the local community.
“We learned a lot,” said Dr. Singh. “Some of the major takeaways were that diabetes mellitus (DM) and hypertension (HTN) are big problems, as well as alcohol, steroid, and antihistamine abuse. Skin care is a challenge due to pollution and bad sanitation. Lack of education and screening opportunities also pose ongoing obstacles. There’s a huge need for doctors in India, but having more nurse practitioners might help close the gap. On the positive side, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are close to non-existent because smoking isn’t common.”
The medical camps resulted in the following successes:
- Testing more than 800 attendees’ eyes and giving out more than 200 pairs of prescription eyeglasses
- Administering dental and eye check-ups and giving toothbrushes to all Pakhoke schoolchildren
- Performing 300 electrocardiography tests, diagnosing one attendee with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- Testing and diagnosing many patients with diabetes and high blood pressure
- Using Apple Watches as a screening tool to identify atrial fibrillation, diagnosing seven attendees
- Conducting cancer screenings, including mammograms
- Providing free medication and guidance to attendees
- Dr. Singh is already looking ahead to the medical camps he is planning for 2020, which will be held from March 14 to 28.
“We’ll need to keep the focus on dermatology, HTN, DM, heart disease, headaches, pain, gastritis, oncology, and OBGYN services,” said Dr. Singh. “We will be looking to meet more innovators, as we feel using Apple Watches was a huge success. For next year, we are planning to use other new technologies that are cost-effective. We have already reached out to couple of companies, including one that makes stethoscopes and one that makes portable EKG machines. We’re looking forward to expanding our efforts to help as many people as possible.”