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Friday July 4, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday July 4, 2014 MYT 12:56:42 PM
by sheela chandran
Do-gooder: 'I feel happy and wonderful knowing that I've done something to serve the community,' says Dr Malikka Mashok, 60. Looking on is her husband Ashok Menon.
Several senior doctors share their joy of reaching out to the needy at a charity clinic in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
Doctors are regarded as great do-gooders with two common missions – to save lives and improve patients’ quality of life. Driven by these goals, many senior specialists and semi-retired doctors are putting their medical knowledge to good use by volunteering at Klinik Derma Sivasanta charity clinic in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
Among them is Dr Malikka Ashok, 60, a friendly doctor who is living proof that age is just a number when it comes to helping the needy. For the past 31 years, she has been dedicating her Tuesday evenings to treating patients at the free clinic. “The core value of being a doctor is to look into the needs of patients. I have always aspired to be a doctor and serve people. The charity clinic gives me an opportunity to reach out to the urban poor, regardless of race, colour or creed,” says Dr Malikka.
The clinic, set up in 1983, is the healthcare arm of cultural centre Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) in Brickfields. Established by TFA founder and spiritual leader Swami Shantanand Saraswathi, the medical facility incorporates specialist outpatient clinics and dispensary. “The late Swami Shantanand believed that volunteer work helps in the betterment of the community. Ultimately, there’s nothing more fulfilling than serving the poor and less fortunate,” says Dr Malikka.
A team of 16 doctors – including gynaecologists, ophthalmologists and paediatricians – volunteer their services at the clinic which is open six days a week, from 6pm to 9pm. Over the last 20 years, the clinic has provided free healthcare for more than 200,000 patients. Regular medical camps are also organised to reach out to the sick in rural areas throughout the country.
During the day (from 9am to 2pm), Dr Malikka runs her own clinic at Menara UOA in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. But every Tuesday, she allocates time to assist at the free clinic where she treats over 40 patients for common ailments such as colds, diabetes, high blood pressure, cuts and wounds. “The clinic caters to people from all walks of life. At the end of the day, I feel happy and wonderful knowing that I have done something to serve the community,” says the mum of two.
During a recent visit to the clinic, Dr Malikka was seen busily attending to patients and checking the dispensary cabinet. Within 15 minutes, there was a steady flow of patients, ranging from locals to foreign workers from India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. By 7pm, the clinic was packed to the brim with a long queue at the registration counter.
“Each patient comes in with different concerns. Some come in with minor issues, while others bear emotional scars and need moral support. It is important to treat every individual with care and respect. To provide good treatment, it is vital to study their emotional make up, understand their concerns, and examine them. Besides medical care, I also counsel the poor who are struggling with financial burdens and have nowhere to turn to,” says the good doctor.
There is another consultation room next to Dr Malikka’s where obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr SP Rachagan, 64, volunteers his services fortnightly. The senior doctor – a volunteer since 2008 – takes on cases related to his field and also helps out with paediatric care. The specialist at a private hospital in Subang Jaya was introduced to the charity clinic through a friend, Dr M Paramjothy, another senior doctor who has been a volunteer at the clinic for over three decades.
“I’ve always wanted to help with charity work. Now that my children are all grown up, I have more time to channel my energy towards something positive. Medical care should be made accessible to everyone and what better way to help improve the lives of others than through my expertise,” says Dr Rachagan who, together with the Temple of Fine Arts, has donated an ultrasound machine to the clinic.
At the dispensary, there is another group of volunteers led by Dr Malikka’s husband, retired engineer Ashok Menon, 62, and four women who oversee the registration counter and dispensary. Ashok explains that the clinic sustains itself solely on donations from TFA members and charity drives. At the clinic, there is also a charity box where patients can put in a small contribution which goes towards the upkeep of the clinic and for purchasing medicines.
“A collection drive is held during TFA’s bhajan (devotional prayer) sessions every Sunday. There are also charity events at TFA and its sister organisations – vegetarian restaurant Annalakshmi, and arts and handicraft centre Lavanya. The funds raised have kept the clinic running for over three decades,” says Ashok, who has been manning the clinic since its inception.
> Klinik Derma Sivasanta is at 128, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Contributions are welcome. Call 03-2274 3709 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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