SCOTS restaurateur Tony Singh has joined forces with one of the country's oldest charities to back a £4.5 million campaign to develop life-saving healthcare in his ancestors’ native India.

The celebrity chef launched an appeal with EMMS International, founded in 1841 as one of the first overseas medical organisations in the UK and now one of Scotland’s oldest charities.

Edinburgh-based EMMS International’s Duncan Centenary Vision is a sustainable development programme to improve healthcare at The Duncan Hospital in north India’s Bihar region, near the Nepalese border. 

“EMMS International’s brilliant work in the north of India is close to my heart,” said Singh, a third-generation Scots Sikh whose great-grandfather Kesar Singh Kusbia came to Edinburgh as a refugee of India’s war of independence 1947 from Punjab.

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“EMMS is so close to reaching its target amount to make such a profound and lasting difference to the health and lives of people in the Bihar region, and I hope I can help highlight the cause to help them push towards that magical £4.5million figure.  

"Living in Scotland, it’s great to see that EMMS are truly international and have for hundreds of years supported people here in Scotland too, on low incomes with life limiting conditions access healthcare – and continue to do so today through their respite accommodation.”

The £4.5m fundraising campaign has already attracted £4m in philanthropic donations, and the final £500,000 is being sought through different fundraising initiatives.  

As well as inviting philanthropic and corporate donations, fundraising efforts include a Dine and Donate for Duncan initiative which will invite small donations from diners at restaurants throughout the UK in order to hit the target amount.

Started in 2019, EMMS International’s Duncan Centenary Vision is being delivered in phases and will support patients from both Nepal and Northern India.  

It has already developed holistic palliative care at the Duncan Hospital and 13 related medical facilities in the region, and developed a clinic with life-saving equipment.  

Building work is underway to establish a new college of nursing and plans are being drawn up to create a new accommodation block, develop a solar-powered energy system, and create a career pathway for up to 250 female students to become healthcare professionals.

HeraldScotland:

Laura Brown, Director of Fundraising for EMMS International, said: "As well as asking for individual donations, we are also aiming to encourage 30 restaurants throughout the UK to demonstrate support by launching the Dine and Donate fundraiser, which we are sure would provide motivation and reward for their staff and customers alike.”

The charity positively impacts lives in Scotland, Malawi, Nepal and India, offering respite to people with life limiting conditions in Scotland and developing health services for people in extreme poverty.

Founded in 1930, The Duncan Hospital, named after its founder Dr Cecil Duncan, a Scottish surgeon, now serves an extremely poor population of eight million people from Bihar state. 

It provides essential clinical services and primary healthcare, prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable people including women and girls, people with HIV/AIDS, victims of modern slavery, and children under the age of five.

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"This project is ultimately about saving the lives of people whose health system suffers from a chronic shortage of workers, poor infrastructure, and a heavy burden of sickness and disease,” Brown added. 

"The devastating impact of Covid-19 in Bihar has come on top of many other health challenges in the region, including malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, and HIV/AIDS. 

"Some 46 children die under the age of one in Bihar for every 1000 live births and the maternal mortality rate is still as high as 149 per 100,000."