Slumdoctor's plea for 15 volunteers

A DOCTOR is asking for medical staff to help in a clinic he set up in India.

Dr Vijay Bangar, a specialist at the Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, set up the Slumdoctor Project five years ago to treat diabetics in the Punjabi town of Phillaur.

Now, he hopes to take up to 15 volunteers with him on his next trip in March 2010.

He said: "What we can deliver depends on the people who want to go and the skills they can bring along."

According to Dr Bangar, who also lectures at the University of Leeds, type II diabetes is around five times more common in India than in the UK.

The clinic offers free insulin treatment – which would cost them 10 a month in India.

During the last trip in April, 650 people were screened and treated for the incurable disease – as well as other conditions, including cataracts and deafness.

Some patients had travelled up to 40 miles to the town – where part of Dr Bangar's family hails from.

He estimates the trip cost around 10,000 – which he and five other volunteers stumped up themselves.

He said: "But as our expenditure grows we are going to need a bit more financial support."

The Slumdoctor Project is now a registered charity – its name alluding to the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire film.

Dr Bangar said: "We wanted people to have a clear picture in their minds of the kind of patients that we see.

Some have such easily treatable problems but either they can't afford the treatment or they don't have access to it."

In particular, he recalls one girl who came to him with asthma, which had been misdiagnosed.

He said: "She couldn't eat, she couldn't even walk.

"We gave her an inhaler, which only cost about 50p. The next time we saw her she was bouncing about all over the place.

"That's very satisfying to see."

Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact Dr Bangar at vijaybangar@hotmail.com

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