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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – Indian Medical Camp - 2002-03-08

Broadcast: March 11, 2002

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Doctors recently treated more than twenty-thousand people at a special medical camp in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The medical camp takes place during the month of January in a hospital that is supported by the organization in the village of Bidada. A non-profit organization called the Bidada Sarvodaya Trust organizes it each year.

Doctors from India and the United States treat the patients. The patients are from more than one-thousand poor villages in the area of Kutch. Vijay Chheda is one of the organizers of the medical camp. He says the patients receive the best medical care at the camp for free.

Mister Chheda says that this year doctors treated the patients for more than twenty diseases and medical problems. Doctors performed more than seven-hundred operations during the camp. Almost two-hundred patients with the most serious problems were sent to hospitals in the city of Bombay, also known as Mumbai

Many patients at the medical camp were suffering from physical or mental problems caused by a severe earthquake that shook the area in January, Two-Thousand-One. This year, the hospital started a center for people who were seriously injured in the earthquake. For example, the center provides man-made legs for people whose legs were destroyed. The government of Gujarat is providing money and training for this center.

The Bidada medical camp began twenty-eight years ago. At first, doctors treated only patients with eye diseases. Then the organizers expanded the camp to help people with other diseases. Organizers say the medical camp has treated more than two-million people since it began.

People in India, the United States and other countries provide the money to operate the medical camp. More than fifty doctors from the United States were part of the program this year. The doctors and other people provide their services without being paid.

Many doctors who serve in the camp were born in Kutch and now are living in the United States. Some of them have been returning to volunteer at the camp each year for many years. The doctors from the United States also teach local Indian doctors the most modern medical techniques.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Shelley Gollust. This is Bill White.