Struggles of a Refugee

6:17 PM


"Ini semua bukan anak saya. Dia punya mak, pak sudah mati. Eksiden motor."

Muhammad* brought with him three children to the clinic. They weren't his children, but the children of a compatriot. The children lost their parents a few months back. Their parents succumbed to a fatal motor vehicle accident on the way to work. They did not have any other family members in Malaysia. They were thousands of kilometers away from their home; Myanmar. The only person they can turn to is a friend of their parents; Muhammad.

Dr Munawar attending to the patients
Even in their home country, they are displaced and stripped of their human rights. Thus, they braved through the treacherous journey by sea to greener pastures; Malaysia. Although life is hard for them in Malaysia, they are still grateful. At least, they do not have to worry about getting killed just for being a Rohingya.

It was 26th June 2016. I was at #IMARET4Rohingya monthly free clinic for the Rohingya refugees.

"Saya ada kencing manis doktor, ini tangan sudah kena jangkit kuman. Minggu lepas sudah kasi picit keluar itu nanah. Sudah pigi jumpa doktor. Itu doktor pesan kasi masuk hospital, tapi duit saya tak da."

Abdul Rahman* is in his 40s. He has diabetes and he is fully aware of it. However, he can't afford to get adequate healthcare. This free clinic is the only way he can get a proper treatment. However, #IMARET4Rohingya can only supply him with metformin for seven days due to a shortage of funds.

He had abscess in his right hand two months back. He did seek medical attention but he could only pay for the incision and drainage at the GP. I assumed the infection might have extended to the bones and tendon as he was unable to flex his fingers and the palm was still quite swollen. He was unable to work because it affected his dominant hand.

His Capillary Blood Sugar (CBS) was 20.1 mmol/L. I offered to refer him to a clinic or hospital. He politely declined.

"Saya tak da  duit mau bayar doktor. Sudah banyak bulan tak da kerja."

Nothing much I can do. Even if I refer him to the hospital, he would need to fork out RM 50, just to register. Quite a hefty sum. In the end, I just wrote a letter for him to try get some medical assistance from another NGO.

Meanwhile, Ali*, a gentleman in his late 40s have been having loss of appetite and loss of weight for the past one year. He's been having discomfort at his abdomen & altered bowel habit. He's been feeling generally unwell and feverish, worsening for the past few months.

"Saya tak tau mau buat apa. Kerja pun tadak larat"

On assessment, he was pale. But his vital signs were normal. I was surprised to have found a massive splenomegaly; smooth, not tender. I was unable to do a per rectal exam due to the limited area for examinations.

I wanted to do some blood test. But we didn't have any and he can't afford to do it elsewhere.
Ultrasound scan; it would be too much to ask.

"Tadak duit doktor."

I could only refer him to another NGO to assist him financially to get medical care.

The Rohingya refugees were grateful for IMARET's initiative. On that day, four medical officers attended to 160 refugees with a myriad of medical illnesses. What would be left of them without any help from NGOs and charity bodies?

A visit to a government medical facility would set them back at least RM 50, not inclusive of medications and tests. A complete care would cost at least a few hundred Ringgit. However, the policy of charging non citizens for healthcare is paramount to safeguard the nation's interest. Affordable healthcare should be catered to primarily Malaysian citizens.

Are we Malaysian citizens utilizing our healthcare system well?
Millions of Ringgit has been spent to subsidize the health care of Malaysians. Yet, thousands (if not millions) of Malaysians refuse to seek treatment. Even when they are diagnosed with certain illnesses, they refuse to take any form of SUBSIDIZED medications. They prefer to be fooled and taken for a ride by quack doctors and pseudoscience practitioners. While citizens from other less to do states pine for preventive initiatives such vaccines, some Malaysians champion the anti vaccine anti medicine initiatives. Malaysian healthcare is a victim is it's own success.

I highly suggest everyone to volunteer for programs like this to realize how well off we are. To be humbled by what God has bestowed upon us. Channel your efforts and specialties for the good of others.



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