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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – Indian Medical Camp - 2004-01-04

Broadcast: January 5, 2004

This is Robert Cohen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Doctors are treating more than fifteen-thousand people this month at a special medical camp in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The medical camp takes place each year during the month of January in a hospital in the village of Bidada. A non-profit organization called the Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust organizes the medical camp each year.

Doctors from India and the United States treat the patients. The patients are from more than one-thousand-two-hundred poor villages in the area of Kutch. Vijay Chheda (CHAY-da) 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 doctors are treating the patients for twenty-five diseases and medical problems. Doctors treat children as well as adults. Doctors also perform hundreds of operations during the camp. In addition, patients with the most serious problems are sent to hospitals in the city of Bombay.

The Bidada medical camp began thirty 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 almost two-million people since it began.

People in India, the United States and other countries provide the money to operate the medical camp. About fifty doctors and medical assistants from the United States and about two-hundred doctors and assistants from Bombay are part of the program this year. The doctors and other volunteers provide their services without being paid.

Many doctors who serve in the camp were born in Kutch and are now 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.

The Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust also organizes smaller medical camps for patients during the year. The organization operates the hospital in Bidada and Maru Hospital in Bombay. These hospitals treat about three-hundred patients every day.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Shelley Gollust. This is Robert Cohen.