Levenmouth helps in Indian dialysis crisis

Dr Swapan Mukherjee
Dr Swapan Mukherjee

A Buckhaven doctor has enlisted the support of fellow Rotarians to help establish a vital lifeline for poor patients in India.

On a visit to a charity hospital in Bangalore in November last year, Dr Swapan Mukherjee saw for himself why the region - dubbed the “diabetic capital of India” - was struggling to meet demand for dialysis.

Despite a 15 per cent incidence of Type-2 diabetes among the local population, Rangadore Hospital contained just 38 dialysis machines, enough to treat only 170 of its 250 patients.

As a result, the Bangalore Dialysis Project was established to address that need.

“The hospital trust came up with another site to build a new dialysis unit to help poor patients in another part of Bangalore,” explained Dr Mukherjee, who practices at Muiredge surgery, “and I thought it was a great project.”

With full support of fellow Rotarians back home, the Leven branch raised $10,000 towards the purchase of new dialysis machines, helped greatly with some “significant personal donations”.

In Bangalore, the 3190 Rotary International branch raised $20,000 and the Rotary Global Grant is also expected to contribute to the $110,000 project costs.

Dr Mukherjee hopes the unit, which will include an adjacent education centre aimed at preventing diabetes and renal failure, will open next month with 11 dialysis machines, nine of them provided by Leven.

He intends to visit the new unit to see it in operation.

“I just want people to know that people in Scotland have been very kind to poor people in India,” said Dr Mukherjee

“This facility will be directed towards people who have been means tested and found to have little or no income; patients who cannot afford treatment or even a square meal a day.”

The prevalence of diabetes among the adult population of Bangalore means approximately 1.5 million people have the condition.

Of that number, around 15,000 patients require dialysis but there are only enough machines to treat 6000 people and treatment is prohibitively expensive, even for those on middle-class incomes.

It is estimated the number of people requiring dialysis will increase by up to 18 per cent each year, and as a result, charitable dialysis units are needed in ever greater numbers.

The Bangalore Dialysis Project was a cause Leven Rotary Club was only to happy to help support, said local Rotarian Alistair Robb.

“This is the largest international project which the Rotary Club of Leven has ever undertaken and one which we are very proud of as it took place during our 75th anniversary year,” he said.