Free health screening for 40 lakh slum dwellers before Gandhi Jayanti

Mumbai: For the first time, the public health department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is undertaking an initiative to screen around 40 lakh slumdwellers in the city before the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Health officials said the free health screening would be for three types of cancer -- oral, breast and cervical, diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis (TB) and non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes.

There are 2,700 health teams which will fan out across the city, to ensure the success of this initiative. “A team of two - one male and one female - workers will visit every house in the slum for screening. We plan to screen around 40 lakh people before Gandhi Jayanti. This move will help us collate a database of communicable and non-communicable diseases for analysis. If citizens are found with symptoms, they will be referred to BMC hospitals or dispensaries for further treatment,” said official. Dr Santosh Revankar, deputy executive health officer, BMC, said the screenings will begin next week. “From September 23, screenings will start, for TB, leprosy and for those exhibiting symptoms of three types of cancers - oral, breast and cervical. The priority here is to find potential patients and treat them without delay," he said.

The health teams will also focus on non-communicable diseases, which are mostly related to lifestyle problems. "Lifestyle diseases are becoming a big problem, so through the screening, we will also identify people living with obesity, hypertension and diabetes. All volunteers are being trained for the job," he added. Samples will be sent to nearby laboratories for analysis. People found to be exhibiting symptoms of a potential disease will be immediately referred to higher health facilities for continuation of treatment.

The state government has already begun the campaign and the survey is being conducted by 70,778 trained staff, who will cover 1.73 crore houses through 14,000 supervisors. This programme is being implemented to bring both leprosy and TB patients under treatment and provide them immediate medication from government supplies. “Besides, this ambitious campaign aims at creating public awareness among people above 30 years of age about high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. This campaign is important to ensure early diagnosis and early treatment, thereby reducing the percentage of such diseases,” said Eknath Shinde, health minister. Various government departments, voluntary organisations, institutions, and professional institutions are also participating in this campaign.

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