Healing hands in action Here is a Rotaract club whose members use their vocation to benefit the larger community.

Rotaractors of RAC Medicrew examining people at a medical camp under Project Khayaal.
Rotaractors of RAC Medicrew examining people at a medical camp under Project Khayaal.

RAC Medicrew, RID 3141, is a 3,000-member Rotaract e-club chartered in 2020 by RC Bombay Pier. The club membership comprises students pursuing medical and paramedical courses from across the world. In addition to providing healthcare services to the community, the club’s in-house services are aimed at personal development and enriching their minds with knowledge from various sources of the medical field.

“We have members from Ukraine, Belgium, China and Russia to name a few,” says club president Megh ­Nagvekar. The club’s administrative structure includes a Rotaract state director for each state pan-India. Under the state director is a regional director, followed by a college head who oversees the Rotaractors of the medical college.

During the pandemic the members volunteered to tackle Covid emergencies globally, he adds. “We worked round-the-clock to provide medical care during both the spells of the outbreak,” he adds.

The administrative committee draws up service projects to be implemented by the club across the globe in consultation with the state and the regional heads.

Under Project Khayaal, mega general health screening camps were organised in various cities across the country. These camps addressed malnutrition and anaemia in children. ­Special camps, focussing on eye and oral health, were conducted in schools too. “We taught the children the right way to brush their teeth and use the dental floss.” Recently an oral health camp was organised, in partnership with the Smile Train India, in five ­cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune and Bengaluru — with special focus on dental care for children with cleft lip.

At a slum in Mumbai to create awareness about hepatitis B, and distribution of ORS to prevent dehydration.
At a slum in Mumbai to create awareness about hepatitis B, and distribution of ORS to prevent dehydration.

The Rotaractors, along with the Inner Wheel Club of Bhuj Wall City, organised a screening camp to detect colour blindness in schoolchildren. Four out of 200 children were ­diagnosed with the disorder. A counselling programme was held for their parents to prepare the children for alternate career options that would not hamper with their disorder.

The club members, along with volunteers from other colleges, visited the slums of Matunga in Mumbai and educated around 150 families there about the spread, causes and vaccination against Hepatitis B. “Most slum ­families confused hepatitis vaccine with the Covid vaccine. The awareness camp had a huge impact on them indeed,” smiles the club president.

A one-day vaccination programme was undertaken by the club to vaccinate stray dogs and cats. The project, done in collaboration with an NGO Pawshunger, vaccinated 100 animals.

Under Project Polaris, the Rotaractors undertook a massive awareness campaign at the medical college hospitals in Mangaluru, Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Ajmer, Rajkot and Gujarat to educate patients in antenatal and post-natal wards about the various government healthcare schemes such as the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, Universal Immunisation Programme, Mission Indradhanush and the Janani Suraksha Yojana. “We spoke to them about the resources and amenities provided by the government under each scheme,” he says.

 

Professional development

On the professional front, the club drew up a session to educate its vast members about medico-legal issues in clinical practice. “Doctors often deal with medical cases which may have serious legal implications. Members with knowledge of the subject created the content for the session. The event was conducted in medical colleges across various states,” says Nagvekar.

An expert talk on combatting sexual assault in the medical profession was held in the member colleges. The club recently organised a programme in 16 medical colleges across the country to raise awareness about how a doctor must approach a patient of sexual abuse and how to handle such a situation. It also involved teaching medical students their medico-legal duties on encountering such a victim.

A buccal swab test being done for stem cell analysis.
A buccal swab test being done for stem cell analysis.

Under Project Manzil, the Rotaractors were introduced to a lecture on opportunities available at the Johns Hopkins University, US,  for doing their Masters programme. “The session gave us an insight into the world of hospital administration and its prospects abroad. We also learnt about the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School,” he says.

International exchanges are hosted online every month. “We’ve conducted exchanges with members from Brazil, Singapore, ­Philippines, ­Turkey, Morocco, Jordan and ­Lebanon. Around 10–12 delegates are selected to participate virtually in each exchange and they showcase their rich culture through videos, pictures and presentations,” he explains.

MBBS Life is one of the signature projects of the club. It is a zoom/YouTube live session for freshers to provide them information on academic and non-academic aspects of MBBS. “The brand awareness this project creates for our club every year and the overall impact it creates for the participants are phenomenal. The number of members we add to our club in a single day because of this one project are greater than what we usually achieve in a whole month!” smiles the president.

 

Bioethics bootcamp 

Having bioethical competence is an indispensable skill for every medical professional. It focuses on ethical issues related to health. “Not only will it help keep us on the right side of the law but it will also give us the assurance that we have made the right choice in moral dilemmas. With this bootcamp, we gave budding medical professionals an unforgettable introduction to bioethics,” he explains. The programme taught them how to deal with personal and professional differences; respect cultural differences and the variation in choice and belief that comes with them; and how to build rapport with patients and co-workers to foster healthier relationships. “This event brought in 30-plus new members to our club,” adds Nagvekar. Podcasts are regularly uploaded online to update the audience with information and discussions about bioethics and some of the ethical dilemmas that a clinician might face.

Children with toothpastes and brushes after a dental check up.
Children with toothpastes and brushes after a dental check up.

A collaboration between RAC Medicrew, IIT Bombay and Datri, a stem cell donor registry, helped the Rotaractors globally to get insight about stem cell donation and transplant. They learnt about the therapy to treat stammering, thanks to the resource persons from The Indian Stammering Association, “who themselves have been stammerers and have worked on themselves tremendously to achieve this proficiency.”

Nagvekhar is grateful for being a Rotaractor as “Rotary has given us all a wide, valuable platform to learn and serve. Our membership is preparing us to be the best in our profession as well as to being good citizens in the society.”

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