Thursday, January 13, 2011

Orang Asli

The aborigins in Malaysia, or more affectionately called "Orang Asli" have a hospital only for themselves and this hospital is the only one in the world that treats solely Orang Asli. This hospital is located in Gombak, and is also where the office of Health and Medical Unit of Orang Asli Welfare Department is located. And for the past 3 days, I was given the opportunity to visit the hospital and was introduced to their system, scope of work and responsibilities. And I dare say our Health Ministry together with the Ministry of Development of Rural Area (whatever it is called in English, in Malay it is Kementerian Pembangunan Luar Bandar) are doing a great job in caring for the health of the orang asli.

The medical team goes into the interior jungle at least once a month to reach out (in?) to the people and treat those at risk, with symptoms or where appropriate. A team consisting of doctors, nurses, medical assistant and even pharmacist went deep into the jungle either by boat, 4x4, helicopter, or even walking for 5 hours just to ensure these people get medical treatment and are not left out. And their effort clearly pays when the incidences of TB, Leprosy and Malaria; three prevalent diseases among the orang asli(s) have been decreasing over the years.

I got to know all these facts today, when a health officer working for Orang Asli Welfare Department (JHEOA) gave us a briefing, together with some interesting pictures and stories on their work field. There was a picture whereby a doctor was searching for medicine on top of a jeep), also pictures of helicopters (approx 1 mil or more is allocated for JHEOA to rent helicopters to go to the interiors) bringing medical supplies, doctors, nurses and PVC pipes.

Watching the pictures while listening to the officer brought me into a whole new world and I forgot I was still in the meeting room of the hospital and I am only seeing the screen, not the real thing. And I was amazed by the challenges these teams went through. Well of course undeniably they are paid for it, since they work for the government but really at least they are doing it. And I am sure (being positive here), that at least a quarter of the team members is sincere in their job. And that got me into thinking, will I be able to take up that challenge in the future?

I don't mind going for a jungle trekking, camping in the jungle, riding on a helicopter, or having half the jeep I'm on under the water, crossing the big river. But even when imagining doing that every month, and staying in the jungle with them for 1 week is challenging enough, I honestly think doing it is much harder.

There will be no water and electrical supply I used to have. Even if the government succeeded in bringing in clean and water supply and the team is bringing their own generator for electric, there is absolutely no guarantee that I will be comfortable with the place. There will also be no guarantee that leeches are not going to get full of my blood. And most importantly, there will also be no guarantee that insects will not be crawling on me while I am sleeping.

However, I still find that kind of work interesting, and I will like to do it in the future. It's gonna be a good experience for me, after being raised through and through in the city. But of course, I don't plan to do it for my whole life, I will want to try other things as well.

I actually have so much to write on this posting of mine, but I have to end this post now before it gets too long and boring. I can always write another post can't I? :p


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