Report of the President of Australian Vellore Board 2016 -17

Report of the Australian Vellore Board President – 2016-2017
Another year has gone by and I have come to the end of my 3rd year in office. It has been an eventful 12/12 at CMCH, and this has naturally flowed on to the Vellore Board here in Australia. In that regard, I have been supported most effectively by Vice-President, Dr Stephen Aseervatham, Secretary, Evelyn Lehmann, Treasurer Richard Caitens, and Publicity Officer Dr Chellam Kirubakaran and I am most grateful for their help. Thanks to Stephen Aseervatham and David Runia, Chairman of the Victorian FOV, we now have a Mission Statement which has been posted on our webpage.
We have been privileged this year by the visit for our annual Board meeting of Hugh and Debbie Skeil. They have been at Vellore for the last 18yrs, Hugh at present heading the Development Office and Debbie in the Dept of Physical medicine and Rehabilitation. Over the last few years, Hugh has played a significant role as liaison between the FOV groups and CMC and we are most grateful for this
Passing of Alison Vickery
At this point I wish to note with sadness the passing of Alison Vickery on Dec 7 th 2016. Trained as a microbiologist in Sydney, she worked in the UK, Vellore and in Australia. Alison began her personal involvement with FOV in 1955 and continued until the time of her passing, making a total of 51 yrs. In that time she served as Secretary of the Board for 28yrs, secretary of the NSW FOV for 5 yrs, and then President for 12 yrs. But above all, she was a friend and mentor to all those involved with FOV in Australia. We are most grateful for her example and for the bequest from her estate.
Council Meeting Jan 19th and 20th 2017
Attendance at this Council meeting in Vellore was a great privilege and pleasure for me as it provided a return to my Alma Mater, an opportunity to liaise with current and retired faculty and representatives of the international FOV. This year on Jan 17th ,prior to the Council meeting, the international FOV met with the Director, relevant members of the Administration and faculty of the Community Health Department of CMC. FOV UK, Sweden, USA and Australia, each made a presentation about themselves and the work that each supported at Vellore. There was also an in- absentia presentation from Germany. The evening was a wonderful opportunity for net-working, and to ensure that the FOV groups did not overlap in their support of the various projects.

The Council meeting, commencing Jan 19th, was chaired by Dr M C Mathew, who has had a long association with CMC. Important discussions centred around
1.Demonetisation on Nov 9th, 2016.?This had had a significant impact on the functioning of CMCH and the mission hospitals, which saw a drop in patient numbers ranging from 35-50%.
Director of CMC, Dr Sunil Chandy, spoke about the CMC experience. There was a 12% decrease in patient numbers and a loss of income of 30 crores. Several lessons were learnt through this very difficult period, but it was felt that they had experienced God’s grace in abundance.
2. Admission of medical students–Dr Anna Pulimood, Principal, spoke about the College. They have to date had 5 batches of 100 students. In the light of the Indian Government?s insistence on selection of students based on the NEET exam, CMC has had to modify its selection process by introducing an aptitude test prior to the selection for interview. As a result, of 17,938 who qualified on the NEET exam, 185 attended for interview and 100 were selected!!!
3. Mission hospitals — a special department had been set up to help the mission hospitals and practical steps were being taken to support them. A mission department webpage had also been set up.
4. Chittoor Campus— I had the opportunity to visit Chittoor and it was pleasing to see the progress over the last 2 yrs. OP numbers had increased significantly and IP facilities which started in April 2016 were running smoothly. 2 theatres were operational, the lab was fully functional, as was the Pharmacy. Blood bank had received approval and once that was established more complex surgery could be undertaken. Recruitment of nurses was slow and this had an impact on the development of areas such as obstetrics. Plans for a well-baby clinic, an orthotics dept and haemodialysis were in the pipe-line
Immediate needs were – Doctors? housing and Nurses? hostel.
5. Kannigapuram—Building plans were finally approved by the Government in August 2016 after 18 months of waiting. On Jan 20th 2017, after the close of Council, a brick-laying ceremony was held on the Kannigapuram campus. Retired faculty, which included 100 year old Sister Anna, one of the early nursing superintendents of CMCH, current faculty, council members, FOV representatives, each laid a brick. The younger members enjoyed leaving their hand-prints in wet cement. It was a fitting finale to the 2017 January council meeting. Since then, building on the campus has progressed rapidly with a view to completion at the end of 2018. Australian FOV have agreed to fund a fully fitted ambulance for the Trauma Centre at Kannigapuram.

Jawadhi Hills Project-While at Vellore I was able to meet with Dr Jasmine Prasad, Head of the Community Health Dept. Last year, Australian FOV had funded a 4 wheel drive for their mobile clinics, but it is only recently that an appropriate one has been found and purchased.
The scholarship programme,in which we are funding 2 students, is also continuing satisfactorily.
There is a need for Accredited Social and Health Activists in the area and we hope to support this in the future.
Interestingly, from information on our website, the CMC Alumni Batch of 66, chose Jawadhi Hils as their Special Batch Project and raised money for staff accommodation at the Health centre there.

We have had 3 over the last 12/12?Dec2016, March 2017 and July 2017?and these have served as an excellent means by which the State groups and the Board executive stay in touch with each other.

State FOV groups and CMC Alumni
State groups in Qld, Victoria and South Australia continue to function well, though Qld is beginning to see age?related changes in its support base. NSW and Tasmania are picking up under Robyn Bradley and Sasanka Dhara respectively and Lovely Charles has been enthusiastically working in Western Australia using the promotional DVDs. My sincere thanks to the tireless efforts of the Chairmen/presidents of the various groups for keeping the enthusiasm for CMC alive and to the CMC Alumni for their support in a multitude of ways.

New Director for CMC
In July 2017, announcement of the New Director for CMC, Dr JV Peter, was made. Dr Peter is a CMC alumnus, and is currently the Associate Director for Finance. He heads the Medical Intensive Care Unit and is also a brilliant pianist. He is extremely well?liked and respected by the CMC community , his batch-mates and all he has worked with and we look forward to the next five years under his leadership.

As I relinquish my position as President of the AVB, I wish to acknowledge the privilege it has been for me to serve CMC. However it would not have been possible without the incredible support of the rest of the executive, for which I am truly grateful. As I hand over to Stephen I have no doubt that the years ahead will be great ones for the Board. Stephen has worked on the Board for more years than one can remember and his knowledge of the workings of CMC is second to none. I wish him and the Board the very best and will continue to watch future developments with unabated interest.

Bella George
President, Australian Vellore Board
Presented at the AGM 19th august 2017

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