Mela attenders urged to take ‘MOT’

Life-saving health checks on offer at Birmingham’s Vaisakhi Mela.

Visitors to one of the world’s largest Vaisakhi celebrations will be offered a potentially life-saving health ‘MOT’ this weekend.

Health officials hope to carry out hundreds of free NHS Health Checks at the massive Vaisakhi Mela in Handsworth Park on April 26. The checks identify the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease and though take up is higher in Birmingham than in most other parts of the country, it is lower than average in South Asian communities.

Now officials aim to remedy that situation as an army of health professionals has volunteered to carry out up to 1,000 checks at the Vaisakhi Mela. Dr Sukhdev Singh, who has pulled together a team of doctors, nurses and other health officials, said: “This is a massive event – there will be approximately 80,000 people in Handsworth Park and a large number of those would benefit from an NHS Health Check.

“We know that a large proportion of the South Asian population do not visit their GP for preventative health care. We’re aiming to pick up disease at an early stage, so we can offer interventions and therefore reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes.

“This will be unprecedented in its scale – previous mass events have managed to see around 100 people but we’re looking to carry out between 500 and 1,000 health checks.”

Birmingham Public Health’s Lead Public Health Nurse, Elaine George, added: “The NHS Health Check service is successfully delivered through GPs across the city but we appreciate that this will inevitably miss some people. So we’re hoping that by offering the checks at Vaisakhi we’ll reach many people who don’t regularly visit their GP.

“I’d urge anyone in the target age group (40-74) to take up this offer. The check will take just 20 minutes and could prolong or even save your life.”

The Health Checks will be carried out in a special marquee in Handsworth Park. Patients will be given a handout of their results and advice on what to do next if a health issue is identified. Dr Singh then plans to monitor the results with a view to future mass screenings at other community events in Birmingham.

To find out more about NHS Health Checks go to: