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PUBLISHED: Jul 8, 2014 7:00am

Homeless NGOs in dire need of medical volunteers

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SUKHBIR CHEEMA By:
Sukhbir Cheema

Reach Out Kuala Lumpur's medical team member Leo Melvin Lim says due to the lack of medical professionals, the homeless and poverty-stricken on the streets near Lot 10 were only able to get medical aid once or twice in a week. He has called for more doctors to volunteer their services. — TRP file pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 8:

Non-governmental organisations (NGO) providing soup kitchen services are in dire need of medical volunteers.

Reach Out Kuala Lumpur’s medical team member Leo Melvin Lim said due to the lack of medical professionals, the homeless and poverty-stricken on the streets near Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang were only able to get medical aid once or twice in a week.

“Due to the fact that we only have a handful of medical volunteers, many of the homeless are only able to be treated once in a week,” the 53-year-old retired businessman told The Rakyat Post.

Leo revealed that among the common ailments the homeless suffer from were fever, flu, asthma, headaches, skin diseases, wounds, rashes and allergies.

This led Leo, who has experience with the St John’s movement for nearly 40-years, to conduct “guerrilla” style medical treatment.

“I usually take a walk around while the other members distribute food and clothing.

“When I chance upon someone with a bruise or wound, I would immediately work with the person,” he said, adding that a follow-up would be conducted the next day.

When asked how the group procured medicines, Leo said at times the organisation had to resort to purchasing them and sometimes they were given by friends and relatives who were in the medical field.

“If the homeless person’s situation gets worse, we have no choice but to take them to the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen has a pool of 15 doctors. However, the group is always on the look-out for more medical volunteers as well.

A 51-year-old medical volunteer, who preferred to stay anonymous, said the number was still not enough as there were days when there won’t be any medical team on the ground.

“There are days when we would have no medical volunteers. I feel sorry for the homeless who are not able to receive medical treatment or aid during those days,” the doctor, who has his own personal clinic, told The Rakyat Post.

The doctor, who has been practising in the medical field for 20 years, was introduced to the organisation a year ago by a close friend.

“From there, I was inspired as I found out how tough life is for the homeless on the streets — a stark contrast from the way we live,”

With more youths graduating as doctors, he said any medical practitioner was welcome to join the group’s efforts in providing medical care.

“If we can have at least have one medical volunteer each day, it would make the homeless people’s day.”

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