Due to the absence of specialist cardiology service provision in Mannar district in Sri Lanka and the resulting long list of patients waiting to see a cardiologist in Jaffna or Vavuniya, Assist RR (UK & SL) set up a cardiology and echocardiogram clinic in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Northern Provincial Council in Mannar between 5th-9th June 2017. This clinic was conducted by Dr Wala Mattar and Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, who are cardiology doctors from Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals in London, UK. Over the course of 5 days, 255 patients of all ages were seen by the cardiologists. These patients would otherwise have had to wait months for an appointment and travel 100s of kilometres to see a cardiac specialist, often involving an overnight admission to Mannar hospital and inter-hospital transport the next morning. During this clinic, the doctors assessed their symptoms, clinical signs including blood pressure and performed an echocardiogram on all the patients. Patients with heart conditions were given follow up appointments with a general medical physician in Mannar District General Hospital. A handful of patients were referred to the nearest paediatric cardiologist, interventional cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon for further evaluation of their symptoms with view to an interventional procedure or surgery. Assist RR remains grateful to the donors who contributed towards the cost of accommodation food and local travel for the participating doctors. The remaining funds will be used towards running of the same clinics in the future. To read the full story, please click the link below:
Assist RR Cardiology & Echo Cardiogram Clinic Mannar June 2017
International Medical Health Organisation (IMHO) USA held their annual dinner on 17 June 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. IMHO USA invited Assist RR to present the needs of Sampoor IDPs at the dinner. Chairman of Assist RR attended the dinner and made a presentation on Sampoor needs. The dinner was well attended by USA Tamil Diaspora. Highlight of the dinner was an American auction of a silk saree. It was mentioned that the proceeds will go towards Sampoor and other projects in Sri Lanka. Assist RR have conducted similar auctions in the UK and, in one occasion, we managed to raise £1200. But this auction was an unbelievable event. At the end of the auction, they raised $110,000 for good causes. It was really amazing that people from the USA were willing to donate this amount of monies to the needy in Sri Lanka. Assist RR salute their generosity and kindness and wish to express its gratitude on behalf of the needy in Sri Lanka. Using the funds raised at the dinner, IMHO USA has agreed to donate $50,000 towards building 60 shelters and $18,500 towards 5 sets of fishing boats to Sampoor fishermen families. Assist RR would like to thank IMHO USA for their continued support to the needy people in Sampoor. IMHO USA has already funded 59 shelters, 50 toilets, and 5 sets of fishing boats, engines, and fishing nets, and other projects. The total funding from the IMHO USA so far is around $100,000 excluding the funds raised at the dinner. Please watch the living conditions in Sampoor by clicking the link below:
Living conditions in Sampoor following Resettlement in 2016
Our annual dinner was held on 28 Jan 2017 in Essex. Dr Somasundararajah, our patron and a trustee of Birmingham Balaji temple, volunteered to emcee the event and also gave a speech on Assist RR’s achievements. Miss Gaayini Nadanakumaran gave the welcome speech and Mr Mark Penney, Head Master of Solihull Junior School, joined us with his family and gave a powerpoint presentation based on his visit to Sri Lanka in July 2016. Dr Sathiyamoorthy, Director of Jaffna Teaching Hospital, joined us through Skype and spoke about the issues facing the education of children from remote villages. Our Chairman, Dr V Sarveswaran, also gave a presentation on Assist RR’s projects in the North and East. We would like to thank the youngsters, who volunteered and performed very well at the dinner. Two of our members sponsored all the expenses including hall hire, sound, food, etc., and another member made a donation of £250. Including this donation, we managed to raise £3815 at the dinner. Out of this, Assist RR donated £2300 to an organisation called ORHAN in Vavuniya. ORHAN (Organization for Rehabilitation of the Handcapped) in Vavuniya district was established in 1999 and working for persons with disabilities. It has been providing various services to persons with disabilities such as special school for mentally challenged children, Physiotherapist unit, and vocational training unit etc. The balance will be used for various educational activities in the north and east.
Areas affected by the war in the North and East of Sri Lanka are still recovering from the three decade long civil war that ceased in 2009. Local health care provision, whilst making tremendous achievements against all the odds, is still sub-optimal. In particular, the whole of Northern Province, with a population of over 1,000,000 is served by only 3 cardiologists: 2 in Jaffna district; 1 in Vavuniya district. However, there is no cardiology or echocardiogram (echo/ ultrasound scan of the heart) service in the other three districts of the Northern Province (Mannar, Killinochi and Mullaitivu). The Health Ministry of Northern Province has requested Assist RR to help reduce the work load on the three cardiologists by providing free echocardiogram clinics, in the first instance, in Mannar, which has a population of approximately 100,000 people and has a long list of patients for echo or cardiology input. As there is no cardiologist in Mannar, the patients will have to make long and uncomfortable journeys to Jaffna or Vavuniya to see the specialist. Therefore Assist RR will run echo clinics every 3 months with the help of volunteer echo specialists from abroad. We will aim to scan 250 patients in one week.
This is an exciting opportunity for cardiologists and physiologists who can perform echocardiogram. We have teamed up with Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, a cardiologist from the UK, to hold regular echocardiogram clinics. Our first project will be in Mannar. The local general physicians who are in charge of these patients will organise them to attend our week long echo clinic in June 2017. The echo reports will go back to the general physicians, who will then decide on the appropriate management and/or referral to the tertiary cardiac centres. If any cardiologists are interested in volunteering for this project, please confirm your acceptance in writing by emailing to Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP. Please attach a short description about your field of work and in particular full details about your capabilities in echocardiogram. We are looking for 2-3 volunteers. We will endeavour to confirm your place on this project within 48 hours of receiving your confirmation. We may be able to subsidise your air ticket costs through funds raised from well wishers. If anyone is interested in supporting this project, please use the link below to donate.
Jaffna Manatkadu Roman Catholic Tamil Mixed (RCTM) School was destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami but never received any support for its relocation away from Tsunami zone. Classrooms were being conducted in a metal temporary shelter and the nearby church corridor. Following appeals to the local Divisional Secretary, Mr Kanageswaran, and to the District Secretary, Mr N Vethanayagan to assist the school to relocate in its new land, Mr Vethanayagan approached Assist RR and made a request to provide a classroom two-storey building containing 10 classrooms. Assist RR made an appeal amongst its friends and families and received support from the following organisations: Building Blocks, UK; Malaysian Diaspora Tamils and Tamil Forum Malasia; Pandithar Trust Fund, UK, in memory of Puloly Pandithar Kandiah Vinasithamby; Assist RR, UK. Building works commenced in June 2016 and was completed in Januray 2017. The building was handed over on 6 Feb 2017 and was declared open by Mr V Sivagnanasothy, Secretary to Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation and joined by Mr N Vethanayagan. The villagers told the gathering that they tried over the past 13 years in vain to have the school shifted to the new location and that a new chapter is beginning due to the support of Mr Kanageswaran, Mr Vethanayagan and Assist RR and other donors listed above. The local villagers and school children were very pleased that they now have a decent and safe environment for learning.
Although Assist RR made an appeal to construct only 20 temporary toilets costing £2500 in April 2016, it was overwhelmed by the support received from the Diaspora. Assist RR ended up raising £20,000 and constructed 100 permanent toilets to Sampoor IDPs. Assist RR is very thankful to IMHO USA, who made this a reality by funding 50 permanent toilets in the first instance. Their support made Assist RR to raise funds for another 50 toilets. After Assist RR started constructing toilets, other INGOs also joined forces and provided more toilets. IMHO USA also provided around £21,000 to construct 35 semi-permanent shelters. Many other Diaspora Tamils from the UK, USA and Singapore have also donated funds to construct another 30 shelters. Since the start of resettlement of Sampoor IDPs in Sept 2015, Assist RR, with the support of many Diaspora organisations and kind hearted individuals from around the globe, has managed to build 155 permanent toilets and 120 semi-permanent shelters. I attach some photos. Assist RR would like to express its gratitude to all those who supported this project and provided decent shelters and toilets to Sampoor IDPs, who were living in welfare centres since 2006. A list if donors, who contributed to the construction of shelters and toilets is given below.
List of Donors – Sampoor Shelters & Toilets