Dr. Gajula Kullayappa, M.D., Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh

A Chest Physician’s Relentless and Single-minded Fight against Asthma


One may find good and dedicated doctors everywhere in the world. One may find kind and compassionate doctors anywhere in the world. One may find many doctors who will go beyond their professional limits and help poor patients who cannot afford medical care. One may even find a few doctors who leave their comfort zone and go to remote places and serve patients selflessly. But, I am sure that it is very hard to find a doctor like Dr. Gajula Kullayappa, a retired Professor and Head of the Department of Chest Medicine at the Kurnool Medical College and the associated Government General Hospital, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. You may ask me what Dr. Kullayappa is doing? Since more than 12 years on every last Saturday of the month, Dr. Kullayappa has been conducting Free Asthma Camps in Kurnool town, with his own resources. He does not solicit or accept donations. He only accepts free samples of medicines and inhalers from the pharmaceutical companies to freely pass on to his patients. During the past 12 years or more, Dr. Kullayappa has never missed even a single camp, and as of today he has conducted 148 camps. After retirement, Dr. Kullayappa has the option to lead a comfortable life and tour around the country or beyond. But out of love and compassion for the asthma patients, most of whom belong to lower socioeconomic status, he has decided to stay in Kurnool and serve the community using his knowledge, skills and expertise as a chest physician, and his own resources. While doing so, he derives immense satisfaction and happiness. Dr. Kullayappa’s selfless service has been attracting patients from the nearby districts. Thus, Dr. Kullayappa personifies the famous quote of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek Physician, who aptly said: Where there is love of man, there is also the love of art.
Asthma is a common lung condition, affecting people of all ages. It is a chronic disease causing breathlessness, tightness in the chest and wheezing, among other symptoms. Asthma is often triggered by breathing dust or particles from household waste or pets, pollen, molds etc. Perfumes, detergents, paper towels, hair dye, cosmetics, shaving cream, air fresheners, paints or even laughing can also trigger an asthmatic attack. Unfortunately, asthma is not a curable disease; but it can be controlled by medications. About 30 million people in India are suffering with asthma, of which about 60,000 die each year due to this disease. Quality of life and productivity are reduced in asthma patients. Absenteeism is more among school children and employees suffering from asthma. The burden of asthma measured by disability and premature death is greatest in children and in elderly patients. The cost of treating asthma is more than that of tuberculosis or AIDS.


For a typical Free Asthma Camp, which falls on the last Saturday of every month, Dr. Kullayappa enjoys meticulously planning and performing the following routine. Prior to the day of the camp, Dr. Kullayappa procures medicines and inhalers from pharmaceutical companies, which donate them generously because of the good will Dr. Kullayappa has earned through his humane service. Two days prior to the camp, flyers are displayed at key places in the town. Shamiana and chairs are rented for the camp. Hospital staff and representatives join the camp as volunteers and help Dr. Kullayappa in guiding the patients and showing them how to use inhalers etc. Technicians carry out spirometry and lung function tests using the equipment. These tests are administered free of charge. In a clinical setting these tests cost about ₹650 each. After undergoing the tests and examination by Dr. Kullayappa, patients will receive medicines, asthma inhalers or inhalers for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or antibiotics, cough syrups, analgesics (pain relievers) or oral bronchodilators (medicine that relieve chest congestion) or anti-histamines (drugs to prevent allergy) or medicines for high blood pressure, depending on the status of the disease. If purchased in a pharmacy, each inhaler costs ₹350 to ₹450. In addition to the camp day, free spirometry tests are done on 2nd and 3rd Mondays of every month. The number of patients seeking help for each camp varies seasonally, but averages from 100 to 120 patients.
The above pictures depict typical workday in an Asthma Camp. A: Dr. Kullayappa giving free medicine to an elderly patient. B: Dr. Kullayappa examining a girl. C: Dr. Kullayappa with patients. D: Mr. Jamadagni, Technician, administering lung function test to a patient. E: Patients waiting under a shamiana.
Apart from physical examination, lung tests and medications, the patients also receive health education in the form of brochures on asthma, tuberculosis, health hazards of smoking and alcohol consumption.

In addition to the fixed days, free asthma camps are conducted on special occasions, such as the World Asthma Day, World TB Day, World No Smoking Day, World COPD Day. Dr. Kullayappa has been conducting these special camps for more than 20 years.

Finally, Dr. Gajula Kullayappa does not rest with these free camps. On any day, any person can come to him and can avail of free physical examination, lung function tests and medicines. His doors are always open to any number of such patients on any day of the year. With the full cooperation and support of his wife Smt. G. Sridevi and son Sri G. Satish Babu, Dr. Kullayappa has been able to pursue his humanitarian mission very successfully. And he is confident that he will continue to do so in the future.

Please visit the web site of Dr. Kullayappa http://www.drgksevatrust.org/  to know more about the mission and values of this exceptional doctor. And here are a few You Tube video clips of his exemplary service:

146TH FREE MEDICAL ASTHMA CAMP DONE BY DR.G.KULLAYAPPA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvD-cew32ec&feature=share 
133rd FREE MEDICAL ASTHMA CAMP DONE BY DR.G.KULLAYAPPA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEQoPQFOC2I 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5snA_d58nx8 
Free Asthma Camp Conducted By Dr G Kullayappa at Sai Clinic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li0YyFIMHvs 
World TB Day - Dr. G. Kullayappa MD (Chest) Prof. Retd - City News on 24-03-2015, Kurnool, A.P. India https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR2jNRL45JE 
Flood Relief CAMP At Kurnool Conducted By Dr G Kullayappa 7-11-2009
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it1wwdWMy24 
WORLD ASTHMA DAY - 2015 MAY, 5TH TUESDAY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAsE1dyprzA 

Author’s Note: Although not situated in a big city, over the past 6 decades the Kurnool Medical College has produced many outstanding and dedicated doctors who are working in various parts of the world. This is made possible because of the devoted physicians and professors, such as Dr. Kullayappa, who are role models for the students. I am proud to be an alumnus of the Kurnool Medical College, which is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee this year. Please look forward for my next article on Kurnool Medical College.

Author: Bellamkonda K. Kishore, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, is a University Professor and a freelance writer. He lives in Sandy, Utah, USA.