Hornbill Unleashed

October 30, 2014

Long REACH of doctors

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM
Tags: , ,

Jonathan Chia

Untold sacrifices of medical and dental volunteers who go on rural expeditions to interior

In an antithesis to this materialistic world, “the best portion of a good man’s life: (are) his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love,” so say William Wordsworth.

Indeed, for a decade, a group of medical personnel under their project, Rural Expeditions Aiding Community Health (REACH), have been delivering acts of kindness and love,

unnamed, but definitely not unremembered – at the expense of their own family time, untold sacrifices, with no monetary returns.

Their acronym REACH aptly describes them in reaching out to remote villages in the state. This selfless group of professionals first made their public appearance yesterday, but not without much persuasion from various quarters who have been working with them.

Dr Xavier Sim was cajoled to speak to The Borneo Post through the arrangement of Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.

“We were the first doctors to visit some of these villages for five years and we have facilitated 20,000 consultations. Our team members have become better carers by learning from the diverse cultures of the local communities and by improving our understanding of Sarawak.”

The medical and dental volunteers from REACH have made more than 40 trips over the past 10 years since the organisation was established, including visits to remote villages in Baram, Ulu Limbang and Ba Kelalan.

Starting with only four core members in November 2003, the organisation currently has seven members and over 300 volunteers ,consisting of doctors, nurses, dentists, dental surgical assistants, pharmacists, physiotherapist, social workers as well as medical assistants.

What touched the soft spot of these volunteers? Dr Sim said, “People in Baram, Ulu Limbang and Ba Kelalan find it very difficult to see doctors and dentists because they are largely subsistence farmers with very low cash income. They can’t afford to travel to a city such as Miri, hundreds of kilometres away.”

Therefore, REACH decided to go to them – complementing the government Flying Doctor Service (FDS). While REACH team consists of doctors and specialists, FDS are staffed with medical assistants and nurses who may not be able to treat some cases that need specialty.

A humbled Dr Sim was quick to add that members of REACH team have actually become better carers and they have improved their understanding of Fair Land Sarawak.

REACH, a project approved by the State Health Department and Malaysian Medical Association, plans to make more regular visits, between four to six times a year.

The next project is a free dental and medical specialist clinic at the Catholic Church in Long Lama, Baram, this coming Oct 30-31.

According to Dr Sim, there will be five specialist doctors, including two dental specialists who will provide service to the rural community in Long Lama on Oct 30 from 3pm to 8pm.

The doctors that will be available on the day are special needs dental specialist Dr Dasera Raj, oral surgery dental specialist Dr Lee Sie Wei, general surgeon Dr Lorraine Lim, child specialist Dr Priya and Dr Sim himself, who is a medical specialist.

On Oct 31, an additional two specialist doctors, namely obstetrics and gynaecology specialist Dr Alifah Mohd Zizi and child specialist Dr Chin Sauu Sian will be in attendance from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 8pm.

Dr Sim said the upcoming clinic to be held in Long Lama, will be a special occasion because many specialists will be involved.

“Usually, when we go out on this kind of trip, we only have one or two specialists. Considering that this time many specialists will be there, we should try to get as many patients as possible to come get medical treatment.”

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