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.