The Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio has formed an international partnership with the Anadabava Seva Sanstha, based in Jamnagar and the B D Mehta Mahavir Heart Institute in Surat, to help poor and needy patients in these two districts of Gujarat through medical camps.
A team of 12 physicians from the United States and Canada, three dentists from the US and the United Kingdom and seven resident doctors of Jamnagar's M P Shah Medical College undertook a Medical Yatra in Jamnagar.
In Surat the MHI provided free hospital services where local cardiovascular surgeons joined the team to provide free surgery.
In Jamnagar, the team treated 5,158 poor patients in 14 remote villages through camps.
In Surat, more than 30 patients underwent cardiac and angioplasty surgeries for inserting pacemakers or stents.
"This is a great learning experience for our sanstha and management to expand our humanitarian services with help from NRI doctors and dentists," said Bapushree Mahant Dev Prasad of the ASS.
Nayanbhai, ASS manager and a computer consultant, worked for five months on this project, staying in touch with village sarpanchs (heads) and school teachers and principals in those villages to work out details prior to arrival of the medical team.
He was also in steady contact through e-mail with Dr Jaya Shah, medical director of the AIPNO team.
"Our medical team has been able to work very hard and long hours because of support provided by the ASS and its well trained staff," Dr Shah said. Direct Relief International, Los Angeles, and MAP International, Georgia, donated medical supplies and provided shipping.
Everywhere, local villagers, school teachers and sarpanchs worked together to arrange facilities in local schools. Schoolchildren welcomed the visitors with flowers and garlands and vermillion; in some places they sang and danced.
"I believe the AIPNO Medical Yatra programme is making a big difference, showing our compassion 10,000 miles away to people of our motherland. To me as a physician this is the most productive and efficient use of my talents and time in a joyful way for my country," said Dr M Vuppala, AIPNO board member from Cleveland.
Ramesh Shah, Medical Yatra coordinator, said they were able to generate donations of medicines and supplies worth $45,000 and financial donations of $11,000.
Dr Sagarita Nayak, AIPNO president, said a Medical Yatra will be organised in Puri, Orissa in January 2008.
For the Surat camps, stents, pacemakers, grafts and catheters were donated by various physicians and humanitarian organisations including the WMR, the DRI, the MedWish International of Ohio, Medtronics of Minnesota Sahajanand Medical Technologies, India, and several physicians.
All products and material were checked for quality, prior to their use in patients, to meet the standards of India's Food and Drug Administration.
This was a "great experiment for us, at the Mahavir Heart Institute, to collaborate with AIPNO," said Dr Girish Kazi, a Surat-based cardiologist. "With frequent communication and six months of advanced planning, we have successfully completed the camp and made lot of poor persons happy and extended their lives."
AIPNO, which has more than 400 members, has taken humanitarian missions to Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Honduras, and also undertaken relief work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Gujarat earthquake, the tsunami in India and Hurricane Isabela in Mexico.
The ASS is a non-profit charitable organisation engaged in helping orphans and older women, among others.
It runs a school for mute and hearing-impaired children and conducts medical services through mobile medical vans, organises eye clinics, has a kidney dialysis centre and a dental clinic.