Above: Annapolis Imam Mikaeel Smith greets a community member at the AACMC health fair.
Anne Arundel County Muslim Council (AACMC) held its first annual, successful health fair on November 16, 2013 at Makkah Learning Center (MLC); attended by not only the local doctors and physicians, but also by representatives from county health care facilities.AACMC aims to start a free heath clinic at MLC.
The goal of this health fair was to create awareness of local health facilities open to the community and to introduce the community to local doctors and medical specialists that the Muslim community of MLC can take advantage of.
Dr. Alif Manjuawala, one of the participating doctors and the chairperson of AACMC, informed The Muslim Link, “We held this health fair so people can learn more about the doctors and the services available in our community and country so people can take advantage of its benefits.”
“The advantage of this is that if someone is not able to go to a doctor or doesn’t want to go to them, they can get their general check-up here and we can recommend a proper follow-up in our individual clinics, annouced Manjuawala, “Right now if someone, who has no health care benefits or insurance or can’t afford health care, they can come my office or any of the individual doctors’ office for their problem and we can treat them there. But in the future, the whole goal is to set-up a free clinic, inshaAllah, in the MLC as we have a lot of property.”
AACMC aims to start the clinic in the next six months. “We will have everything available, not just [for our] community but also [for] other people who are unable to afford health insurance or health care benefits. We plan to have the clinic open for two days a week initially and then move to weekends, depending on how it is set up at that time. The funding for the clinic will initially come from AACMC but then eventually we plan to get the county involve and set-up donation system from people,” explained Dr. Manjuawala , who has been practicing his field for 30 years and lives in Anne Arundel County for the past 25 years.
Above: A doctor gives advice at the health fair. Photos by Urooj Zulfiqar.
About 50-70 people attended the event and made it a memorable moment for the community; the first of its kind. Rudwan Abu-Rumman, the president of AACMC, was happy that it was able to generate the targeted number of audience for the event’s first attempt, “Alhumdulilallah, this is our first try to have the health fair and [for] a first attempt, it is great. The working team, especially the young volunteers who came forward to help out made this event successful with their exceptional work setting up. I am very thankful for all their help and participation.”
Despite best efforts, timing of the event, slow marketing and the weather contributed to the meagre audience. Despite annoucements at every Jummah prayer or every class prior to the event, somehow it wasn’t enough. Regardless, it was still a success according to Rudwan, it had the largest number of doctors, specialists and health care facilities attending compared to other community health fairs.
Among the attending doctors or specialists present where Dr. Iffat Chowdhury (Endocrinologist), Dr. Malik (Pediatrician), Dr. Rubina Niazi (Psychiatrist), Dr. Musara (Surgeon), Dr. Seema Siddiqui (Dentist), Dr. Yasir Hamad (Internist), Dr. Kamal Batcha (Pulmonary CAre), Dr. Syed Riaz (Internal Medicine), Dr. Muhammad Eyad Dughly (Neurologist), Dr. Alif Manejwuala (Gastroenteralogist), Dr. Homayara Aziz (Gynocealogist), Dr. Rascha Dughly (Psychiatry), Dr. Nabil Badro (Vascular Surgeon), Dr. Atiqe Rahman (Infection Diseases), Dr. Oqba Tujjar (Dentist), Dr. Reem Dughly (Dentist), Dr. Amir Monifar (Orthopedic Surgeon), Dr. Mateen Zar (Naturopath), and Dr. Ali Deyhim (Podiatric surgeon).
The fair also attracted representatives from health care facilities such as Ms. Tahira Hussain from the Domestic Violence Agency, Anne Arundel County Health representatives on Breast and Cervical Cancer, Medicare and Medicaid representatives, State of Maryland Health representatives to help people sign up for the Affordable Care Act, a Anne Arundel Medical Center representative, and an Alzheimer’s Association representative. Representatives from Vemma were also present to talk about the halal, organic energy drink and juice.
The event also had activities for children, such as a moon bounce, popcorn, and food available for the general public so no one felt left out. People of all ages were welcome to the event.
While Rudwan seemed a bit disappointed on the numbers of attendees, the Imam of Islamic Society of Annapolis, Sheikh Mikaeel Smith, was satisfied by the event’s status, “This health fair is a success, regardless of how many people show up. It is a success because it is the beginning; it’s setting the path to further programs like this and serving to give the community the services that it needs -free of charge. And also a sense of brotherhood is coming. So no matter how many people show up, it is a success and the reason being is that it is the first one. And InshaAllah, I hope for more such events in the future and we will continue to have annual health fairs.”
Attending community members were more than happy to have such an event finally held in the Anne Arundel Muslim community. One of them in particular is looking into a better future of such events, “On behalf of Makkah Learning Center, I would like to say that this is a wonderful event, which brings people together in general and it [brought] our community together. And it is something that is beneficial as well, so we can all take something positive from it. And inshaAllah, we will have something similar to its kind in the future as well and hopefully people will know about it and it continues to grow and spread awareness, inshaAllah.”
The AACMC members thanked not only people, who attended the health fair, but also the volunteers and organizational team that came out to help. They were very proud of the overall success of the event. They hope to correct their mistakes in the future.
The event was also successful due to its organizational team as one attendee puts it, “It was very organized, it seems. Everyone worked hard to put it together. I just wish there were more people attending.”