MALAPPURAM: I can’t subject myself to this strange machine, let me go, an 80-year-old woman pleaded with Dr Muhammed Shafi P E, during his medical camp at Sabhapur village in Uttar Pradesh. She was scared by the sight of a sphygmomanometer, which he had taken out to check her blood pressure. Let alone a BP apparatus, many were meeting a qualified doctor for the first time, amid the quacks that rule the roost in such villages. In another medical camp at Kalindi Kunj near Delhi, villagers were frightened to see Shafi in a facemask and gloves.
“These villages are isolated 24x7. I met many people who haven’t even of Covid,” says Shafi, a young Unani doctor from Kondotty. Having completed his Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery course from the Tipu Sultan Unani Medical College in Kalaburagi, the 23-year-old had set off to villages in north India, setting up solo medical camps.
“I wanted to meet local healers across the country and know about rare herbs. I planned 120 medical camps in the remotest villages. Since February 9 this year, I completed 40 across Delhi, UP, Haryana, Punjab and Kashmir in two months, before the Covid second wave,” Shafi says.
More than 3,000 people have consulted him in these camps. “I carried a bag of Unani medicine given free of cost by pharma companies and some antibiotics and painkillers,” he says. Local NGOs introduced him to the villagers and the people there led him to other villages. “Malnutrition and communicable diseases were rampant.
I haven’t seen a single kid without a runny nose. I found typhoid is common in Punjab and flu in Delhi.” Back in Kondotty now, he remains optimistic of completing his mission. “I hope to do my PG in Turkey. My aim is to track the roots of ancient medicines and the diagnosis methods,” he says.
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