As a frontliner at the clinic, all of us as family doctors are responsible for taking care of the wellbeing of the community and health care workers . During this COVID 19 pandemic we take extra length to do the best to protect the public and to ensure the clinic is safe for everyone. At the beginning of the pandemic we saw the whole country struggled to handle patients who were infected and when admissions were made compulsory , all resources and money were spent and channelled to equip hospitals with lifesavings equipments and improve the settings of the ICUs to address the sudden influx of severely ill COVID patients. Family doctors in other hand, have to handle the situation by storm. With limited available resources to address inadequate ppes for the staffs who have to run thousands of screening in the community while adequate ppes were also needed to protects staffs in the clinic. There were shortage of ppes everywhere and family doctors gather resources from good individual Samaritans, NGOs and pumped in the ppes while waiting support from our ministries. No doubt it was a great relief .
Family doctors were also faced to make quick decision at hoc to develop triage counters, fever centres which are managed by separate team. This is to ensure safety and protection of the patients namely the elderly, the vulnerable groups and importantly the healthcare workers working daily in the clinics separate from suspected COVID patients. Working closely with CPRC and administrators we were able handle the situation professionally. Family doctors develop new system of appointments following staggered time and during this pandemic history is in the making to see how the family doctors in the whole country is able to successfully transformed the new system in the clinic and able to discipline the public to abide to staggered appointment system and become the new norms. A lot of initiative is taken to improve the current appointment system with the help of ICT support by governmen
I work as a family doctor in east coast of Sabah for more than 20 years. I have keen interest on HIV/AIDS and took the opportunity to pursue further in this field. I notice that there was an alarming rise of infection noticeably high among the young at risk population and also among the young vulnerable groups mainly the housewives. The interest to make the difference by doing outreach work grows to passions, and in 2008, I setup my NGO with the name of Sabah AIDS Awareness Group Association (SAGA) as an outlet for me to carry out HIV/AIDS prevention activities – reaching out to most-at-risk population in the streets and among the communities whom may not feel comfortable to seek help at government clinics due to financial strain, naivety and also due to documental issues. SAGA had conducted a few workshops and gatherings giving HIV education and awareness program with local schools, and we created many opportunities for volunteerism and involvement of young people as well to reach out their peers..
In the past 3 years, my activism took a different direction – as I shifted away from HIV prevention to treatment. Going back to the basic of what I did in KK Sandakan, SAGA introduced a new program called the SAGA Health Access Programme (SHAPE) that gives travel subsidy to HIV and chronic patients from rural Sandakan to enable them to have access to treatment in KK Sandakan and the nearby Duchess of Kent Hospital. I found that this last mile assistance is just as important as the treatment itself. This program currently served 200 patients not only in Sandakan, but also in the neighbouring district of Semporna, Lahad Datu, Tawau and Kunak.
We are happy that we are able to help the poor by enabling them to come for their treatment without fail and hence to make sure of heir adherence to medication which is much needed in treating HIV patients. Patients with chronic diseases such as Thallasemia are able to get their regular blood transfusion without interruptions. And patients with kidney failures able to come for their dialysis without fail. In other words we give them hope, a glimpse of life and chance of survival despite their poverty who if we let them alone and without help will have slim chance of survival .
With the help of Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) led by executive director Mr Jasmin Jalil , I was able to organize charity gala dinner and raise funds to fund the SHAPE program . And at the same time with the good Samaritans and stakeholders –SIME Darby, Hannah Initiatives, Aaron Aziz and anonymous donors we are able to deliver food to the needy and the poor.
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