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Region 3 - Free Walk-in Health Awareness Day at The Mayor’s Newham Show

21st/22nd July 2012

The sun was shining brightly but the ground was still squelching underfoot thanks to overnight rain. The Olympic torch arrived to entertain the hundreds of eager people lining the footpaths through Central Park in Newham. Children were running around and playing games. And yes, it was time for another Free Walk -in Health Awareness Day...

The Newham Mela (or Mayor’s Newham Show as it is officially known) is a 2 day event and has been the location of a Health Awareness Day for the past 5 years. I was attending it myself for the second time. However, this time there was a big difference. On the Saturday the Olympic Torch was coming to this London Borough which was about to host the 2012 Olympic Games and this Mela was one of the stops en route where the torch was to be displayed to the public before moving on to Greenwich. Hence, a much larger crowd was expected than normal, helped greatly by the good weather that day.

The actual Health Awareness Day was well organised by the Health Partnerships- London Borough of Newham in partnership with NHS East London and the City supported by the Region 3 SSSO UK. This consisted of the Medical team lead by Dr. Chirag Parikh, Service wing lead by Sister Anupama Raichura, Region 3 Service Co-ordinator , Youth wing lead by Mali Almeida, Region 3Youth Co-ordinator with many young volunteers manning the reception desk, and several GPs, medical specialists, dentists and eye specialists. All in all 18 Healthcare professionals and 39 general volunteers selflessly served on two days. We were provided with two mobile units for our Dentists and Eye specialists to use, while the GPs worked in the open under the Canopies outside the Mobile units.

We screened 386 people and provided 886 consultations over 2 days. We made 26 referrals for people to contact their GP/Dentists and Opticians for further investigations. Those attending were a mixture of patients with known conditions, to those who just wanted some advice about specific symptoms. The ethnic mix of the local population was clear, with over 40 countries represented among our attendees from all over Europe, Asia, Africa and even the Americas.

The Newham Primary Care Trust was providing a service checking blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and body-mass index, with each person receiving a print-out of their results and an explanation of what they meant. If there were abnormalities then people came to see one of us for advice, sitting outside in the open at two desks in the intermittent sunshine. Some people needed reassurance, but a few others were referred to their GP because an important abnormality had been found through the screening process. Fortunately no one had a heart attack after seeing the Torch!

The queues for the dentists and eye specialists were long as ever, but people left satisfied that they had been seen properly. Swami’s message of "Service to Man is Service to God" certainly seemed to be evident. People kept coming all the way up to 6pm on both days , when finally our time had come to an end. All in all it was satisfying two days and most of us ended with an ice cream as a reward, and a few people went on the fairground rides (and yes, we do have the photos)! Finally, a big thank you to all the medical and non-medical volunteers who helped make this such a successful weekend.

Dr.Suneil Aggarwal