Taking Healthy Heart Project to Khan Sahib

Budgam is the next destination of The Gauri Healthy Heart Project (GHHP) with a camp organized through the chief medical officer (CMO) and the District Development commissioner (DDC) at Kremshora Sub District hospital adjacent to Khan Sahib, the abode of Syed Saleh, popularly known as Khan Sahib.

He was a deeply religious scholar of Quran who had originally come from Central Asia in 17th century and came to this remote corner and meditated in a cave for several years and had extra ordinary spiritual powers. It is a small hamlet which has now grown to a population of around 26,000.

It is of interest to note that this district has a very rich history besides having  a very picturesque landscape : Doodpathri, Yusmarg, Tosamaidan, Nilnag, Khag, Mount Tatakuti and Pehjan are some well-known destinations. The old records refer to this area as `Pargana Deesu’. It later became a part of District Baramulla when Srinagar itself was a part of Anantnag district.

Historically according to Khawaja Azam Demari, the area was known as “Deedmarbag” and was densely populated and because of that its name changed to Budgam (Big Village). Many of the invaders to the valley entered it through this area via the Poonch Gali. These warriors included Mohd Ghazni in 11th century who made 2 futile attempts and then the Sikh’s with Ranjit Singh who made his first attempt from here in 1814.

One of the tallest personalities of Kashmir, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, affectionately known as Nund Rishi, a Sufi saint, mystic, poet and an Islamic preacher travelled extensively in this area. His resting place at Chrar-e-Sharief is also situated in the district.

The total population of the district today is estimated to be around 11 lacks. That would mean as per the regional data, it should have around 3,30,000 people with high BP, 1,10,000 individuals with diabetes and at least 85,000 with the deadly duo of high BP and Diabetes.

It has been our experience that the treatment to targets which is very important in these conditions is inadequate in the peripheral areas of our homeland. This leads to increasing occurrence of heart attacks, strokes, chronic kidney disease which can largely be prevented by aggressive treatment approaches. These approaches are a combination of healthy life style measures and administration of cost-effective medicines preferably in single drug combinations to improve the compliance. In order to emphasize it the medical team of GHHP would evaluate pre-screened patients with high BP, diabetes with or without stable heart disease.

All the patients will have a complete evaluation as per a pre formed questionnaire and measurement of body mass index (Body weight and Height), BP measurement using a calibrated BP instrument which takes at least 3 readings before giving the average, random blood sugar and serum lipid estimation by point of care instruments and a complete ECG taken. This would help us to pick up patients with uncontrolled BP, diabetes, new cases of these problems, patients with high lipid levels and cases with previous unknown heart attacks.

The treatments of these subjects will be optimized and new agents which have been introduced to improve outcomes will be added wherever needed. The pharmaceutical industry and donations from many philanthropic friends and industrial groups help us in these endeavours. Strict COVID protocols as directed by WHO will be observed.

The population growth of Budgam is 25% in 10 years, with 885 females to 1000 males. and one of the reasons for this is low literacy rate of around 55% only. Compare it to Kerala with a literacy rate of 97% leading to a female: male ratio of 1084:1000 and nearly static population growth.

It is for these reasons GHHP has decided to select remoter areas of the districts, where health education is badly needed. It is expected by treating a small fraction of patients the word of optimization of treatment would spread. We also plan to give handouts of the targets of treatment to those who see us.

As a part of our program we will also have a continuing medical education session in the District Hospital on the 2nd of November afternoon on the subject “Diabetes and High BP – A lethal or a deadly Duo”.

It will have an informal discussion with the doctors of the district and a didactic lecture by me. The DC will be the chief guest and the CMO would chair the session.

We will bring out a report of our activities soon after the data obtained is analysed and, compare it with that obtained in the Kupwara camp held last month.

A healthy society with control of non-communicable disease related morbidity and mortality brings in a feeling of wellbeing and prosperity in the population.

Budgam district has produced many distinguished poets and writers of Kashmir Language. Of these, the more famous include Shamas Fakir and Samad Mir, the pioneers of Sufiana Shairee (mystic poetry), Abdul Ahad Azad, revolutionary poet who also wrote the history of Kashmiri literature, Ghulam Nabi Dilsoz, a famous romantic poet and Ghulam Nabi Gowhar, the novelist. The other great personality is Late Pundit Moti Lal Saqi, poet, scholar and a critic who spent many years here.

The internationally recognized Kani shawl also originated from Kanihama in Budgam and its intricate knit work has made it into a timeless luxury that has been a symbol of sophistication and class for the elite since times immemorial. Even Napoleon the emperor of France had gifted it to his wife Empress Josephine who wore a Kani Pashmina Shawl in 1800’s.

It is going to be a very educative experience spending time in this historic area of the Kashmir valley and giving our bit in terms of understanding the medical needs, imparting education and optimizing medical treatment of problems of high BP and Diabetes. Both of them are surfacing as a huge threat to the population in terms of premature morbidity, disability and deaths.