On a humanitarian mission to Bangladesh

BRACE 2018 participants carry out a medical check-up on one of the villagers.

OVER 40 students from Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) took part in an international humanitarian mission to Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Dubbed the Bangladesh Relief and Care Expedition (BRACE) 2018, the programme was held from July 22 to 28, and aimed to provide health screenings and medical assistance for the community in Dhaka.

As of June 2017, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimated that at least 1,200 people have died and more than 41 million were affected by monsoon rains and severe flooding in south Asia.

In Bangladesh alone, floods claimed the lives of 142 people and impacted over 8.5 million citizens. Not only were their homes washed away but crops, food supply and livestock were all wiped out. Recent figures from the the Asian Development Bank showed that 31.5% of Bangladeshis lived below the national poverty line.

Responding to the tragedy, CUCMS’ students started collecting information, conducting research on the affected area and planing for the mission last December.

This annual mission focused on providing health services, medical care, education and welfare support to the underprivileged community.

“Our students’ efforts are in line with the university’s vision of “Nurturing the Passion to Care” among its graduates,” said BRACE 2018 adviser Assoc Prof Dr Mohamed Ikram Mohamed Salleh.

The team visited Uthali Village, Madrasah Al-jamiatul Islamia Majahirul Ulum Bhagalpur (Bajitpur), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and Aftab Uddin School & College.

“This is the best place to practise what they have learnt in the classroom. Rural community exposures like these will help students better understand their role as soon-to-be healthcare professionals.

“This will also open new opportunities for them to gain knowledge and comprehend how the real healthcare spectrum works,” said Dr Mohamed Ikram.

BRACE 2018 included medical check-ups, health talks and provision of basic living items for short-term aid. Two of the long-term projects were providing medical bill coverage for babies from poor families to stay in incubators at the Paedriatric Department and the extension of washrooms at the Madrasah nearby to improve students’ personal hygiene.

CUCMS also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BSMMU to collaborate in a knowledge-sharing initiative, students and researcher exchange.

The partnership will focus on the masters programme on family medicine, anatomy and pharmacology.

At the ceremony, CUCMS’ Faculty of Medicine dean Major General Datuk Prof Dr Zin Biddin said: “This programme opens up more opportunities for our students to learn, do good things and gain exposure on different cultures, environment and traditions.”

BRACE 2018 project director Ameer Ikhwan Azminudin said: “The most important thing that I learned from this mission is the responsibility of every individual.”

“Regardless of our background, the only thing that matters is how much effort we choose to invest to help people who are in need.

“I would like to thank all lecturers, participants, partners and sponsors who were involved in this programme. Without your support, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve our goal,” he added.

Siti Sarah Abdul Fatah, a pharmacy student and participant said it was an eye-opening experience. Nur Hidayah Mohd Assabri, a psychology student and participant agreed with SIti Sarah.

“It was an eye-opening journey for all participants. Thank you BRACE for the opportunity,” she added.

This was the second time that pharmacy student Shafieza Hanem Sahrudin took part in the mission.

“I can see the differences in the needs of each community,” she added.

BRACE 2018 is the sixth international mission organised by the students from CUCMS. They stared with a Cambodia mission in 2013 followed by Vietnam in 2014, Pekan Baru, Indonesia in 2015; Vientiane, Laos in 2016 and Nepal last year.

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