Providing healthcare for refugees

(From left) Professor Ong, Towle, Dr Mei and UNHCR health programme associate Jason Yeo at the MoU signing.

TWO organisations are ensuring refugees are not overlooked in getting access to healthcare.

International Medical University (IMU) signed a memorandum of understanding with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to collaborate on programmes related to health educational services for refugees, particularly young children.

Under this partnership, IMU’s community programme called IMU Cares will implement various projects to educate and empower young refugees to improve their health and well-being as well as adopt positive behavioural changes towards better health.

IMU Cares, which was established in 2002, has been providing healthcare to nearly 1,000 children comprising refugees, displaced individuals and Malaysian urban poor since February 2014.

“Providing the refugees with proper healthcare and health education will lower the risk of infectious diseases, hence we are also helping Malaysians and our own children,” said IMU external affairs director Prof Ong Kok Hai.

“With the help of UNHCR, IMU Cares can now reach out to young refugees and asylum-seekers, to educate and motivate them to improve their health,” he added.

Prof Ong believes that these community programmes are also beneficial to IMU students.

“The programme allows our students to learn from experience and practise what they have learnt in the classroom.

“The key objectives of this programme are to serve the community and also for our students and staff to practise humanitarian values, professionalism and ethics, caring and giving as well as learning about teamwork and event management,” he said.

“This MoU has symbolic value.

“It enables us to look at how we can help refugees, particularly children, to be better equipped to deal with the challenges they face out there,” said UNHCR representative to Malaysia, Richard Towle.

IMU deputy vice-chancellor (international and engagement) Dr Mei Ling Young said community service was an honour and IMU wanted to incorporate it into its culture.

There are 151,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia.

They include some 34,000 children below the age of 18.

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