26 February 2011
This voluntary doctor’s group that came about after stormy discussions in Parel’s KEM Hospital, is elated with its unexpected selection. "We made it to a shortlist of three in the 'Medical Team in a Crisis Zone' category," said Doctors For You member Dr Ravikant Singh of KEM Hospital. What makes their selection even more special are their opponents in the category – international NGOs Medecins Sans Frontieres and Save the Children. "They have budgets that are equal to budgets of small Indian states and here we are with a minimal budget and a small if growing network of young doctors," said Singh.
Ever since the British Medical Journal (BMJ) put up the announcement online two days ago, the group is trying hard to gather money to buy five air tickets and seats at the Oscar showing–each ticket costs 228 pound at London's Hilton hotel. "We need quite a huge sum of money before the last day of March 1, but we are hopeful considering the support we got when we went to Bihar with our mission," said the doctor.
The Bihar floods occurred on August 18, 2008, with the first team of 45 doctors from Doctors For You reaching on September 15. The Art of Living Foundation gave the young doctors Rs 10 lakh to embark on the mission and other philanthropic organizations followed suit.
The young doctors suffered a huge loss when one of their KEM Hospital colleague, Chandrakant Patil, was struck by lightning and died on September 21 2008. "Many of our members were disheartened and wanted to return but an equal number of them like Dr Prashant Ture and Dr Ajit Rai stayed on for three months at a stretch." The team managed to get funding to set up a maternal and child health post in Saharsa district. "We continue to go to the six districts of Bihar where we first began to provide healthcare," he added.
Singh won the SAARC award for the medical crisis management in April 2010. The group has since helped out during the Andhra Pradesh floods, the Leh landslide and even tried three times to go to Pakistan during the floods. But they failed to get permission to go across the border. "But we now plan to set up a South East Asian humanitarian Relief team that will aim to work across the area," said Singh, adding that the group now has over 500 members including doctors from Delhi AIIMS.