India volunteers screen nearly 20,000 in MMM17 Pune campaign

26th May 2017Eugenie Verney

India volunteers screen nearly 20,000 in MMM17 Pune campaign

A team of May Measurement Month volunteers in the Indian city of Pune have recorded the blood pressure of nearly 20,000 people in just 22 days.

Led by homeopathic consultant and clinical nutritionist Dr Mansi Patil, the volunteers from the Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition brought together people from all walks of life to set up screening sites right across the city.

Despite having limited funds, through their MMM Pune Initiative they ran a total of 20 screening centres in housing associations, temples and churches, and gyms as well as in no fewer than 14 hospitals and a further 12 privately-run clinics. The team also hosted 23 awareness lectures in hospitals, clinics, colleges, hotels, and shopping malls.

Dr Patil said: ‘Lifestyles are changing very quickly in India. Urban life is becoming more sedentary with people taking less exercise and eating more junk food.

‘We are now at the start of an era of “lifestyle diseases”, with an epidemiological shift away from communicable to non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes. This means we need a shift in our medical practices so that everyone has access to screening at every level in the healthcare system.’

Above: Dr Mansi Patil (front) with some of her MMM Pune Initiative volunteer colleagues at the Infant Jesus Church, Yamunanagar, one of 20 screening sites set up across Pune. Top: a volunteer at a screening session held in Pune’s Alandi Temple. The volunteers painted the International Society for Hypertension logo on their t-shirts as they were short of funds.

As well as gathering data for May Measurement Month, Dr Patil and her fellow volunteers aimed to raise awareness around hypertension among both medical professionals and the public.

She said: ‘We encouraged doctors, nurses and paramedical staff to start measuring blood pressure every time they see a patient and to provide them with guidelines on healthy living — regular exercise, lowering salt and sugar intakes, avoiding junk food, cutting out alcohol and stopping smoking.’

They provided the same guidelines in their lectures for the public.

One of the MMM Pune Initiative team screening at the Alandi Temple (left) and another taking a measurement in the deprived Indira Nagar neighbourhood in Chinchwad. They used blood pressure devices donated to May Measurement Month by pharmaceutical company Omron.

On 22 May, 29 of the MMM volunteers screened a remarkable 3,487 people during a single session at Pune’s famous Alandi Temple. ‘For many, having their blood pressure measured was a first-in-a-lifetime experience and they were apprehensive about even coming close to the blood pressure device,’ said Dr Patil.

Indeed, of those measured, 98% had never been screened before and 20% were unaware that they had raised blood pressure. A small number of people knew they were hypertensive but were not taking their medication regularly.

Dr Patil paid tribute to the Alandi Temple MMM Pune Initiative volunteers, saying: ‘They all worked tirelessly throughout the day.’

They were: Dr Vishal Patil, Dr Mayuresh Badhe, Dr Ashwini Badhe, Dr Bhushan Labhane, Dr Swapnil Kale, Suyash Bhandari, Shital Tambe, Romy Parkhe, Vallerian Parkhe, Mridula Anthony, Marshalein Anthony, Christy Francis, Valencia Perumal, Rishabh Karwal, Hazel Perumal, Anisha D’Cruz, Lastle, Stanley Crasto, DeepakBansode, Xavier Matthews, Nikita Xavier, Anand Pathare, Usha, Gayatri Kashelkar, Heena Javaiya, Swati Supare, Sister Sangita, and Neha Pundir.

The MMM Pune Initiative team at work… In the Alandi Temple (left, right, and centre top) and in the Indira Nagar neighbourhood, Chinchwad (centre middle and bottom).