Above: NUS Catholic Medical Society members (in dark blue) pose for a photo with the ACTS team (in light blue) at the Don Bosco vocational school for girls in Battambang. Below: A Singapore medical student dispenses medication to Cambodians.
Eighteen students from the NUS Catholic Medical Society provided medical care and conducted health education in Cambodia recently.
The inaugural student-run mission to Battambang, from Dec 10-16, also saw the participation of four doctors from the Catholic Medical Guild and Mr Malcolm Wong, assistant principal of St Joseph’s Institution.
The team, dubbed Mission Srolanh (srolanh means “love” in Khmer), was conceived as a result of a request for medical aid from Msgr Enrique Figaredo, apostolic prefect of Battambang.
During their trip, the Singaporeans worked with the clergy there, the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco and several lay volunteers, complementing existing outreach efforts of various missionaries.
The team provided medical care and conducted health education lessons at four centres and also for 600 local people in four villages.
The centres cater respectively to 50 landmine victims and teenagers afflicted with poliomyelitis, 80 girls undergoing vocational studies, 50 adolescent students, and 30 destitute young children.
In addition to addressing fundamental health issues such as basic hygiene, the team also conducted medical screening and health education programmes for each group.
For example, at the Don Bosco vocational school for girls, the team addressed women’s health issues. At the Arrupe Welcome Centre for the disabled, the team focused on care for prostheses.
The Singapore group also collected data to study medical demographics such as the prevalence of anaemia, malnutrition, hypertension and hair lice problems.
With the information gathered, they hope to evaluate and further advance their efforts for the Cambodians, committing to an ideology for sustainable and long-term aid.
One concrete measure they look forward to taking is sponsoring select Cambodian students through medical school. Hopefully, they will become resident physicians at the centres the Singaporeans visited upon graduation.
Additionally, the Singapore team also looks forward to working with local healthcare institutions such as the Petyieychee Health Centre, Battambang Provincial Hospital, a medical laboratory and a pharmacy to promote cohesive and seamless healthcare for local people.
“We recognise that periodic visits to Cambodia cannot be a sustainable solution and therefore see the need to invest in improving existing healthcare facilities,” said Mr Christopher Chua, 22, head of the team’s development committee.
Organisers say the group may also minister to the psychological well-being of the girls at the Don Bosco school in the future.
Mission Srolanh was also a collaboration with A Call To Share (ACTS), an initiative of the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Singapore, which serves needy Cambodians.
By Joanne Luo