KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Despite interruptions to health services from volunteer doctors during lockdowns, the Orang Asli from a remote village in Kuala Lipis, Pahang, continue to access medical care through the phone.
The first Orang Asli Medical Post in Kampung Dayok is still functioning through the teleconsultation services provided by doctors from the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia’s (FPMPAM) DRSforALL initiative and Semai youths trained in basic medical aid, called Mediks.
“Yes, even during this difficult period, we are able to provide care for patients via our teleconsultation service with our Mediks on the ground,” FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow told CodeBlue.
The indigenous people in the Semai villages travel approximately one and a half hours by bike by crossing the logging jungle route to go to the nearest public clinic 7km away.
However, Semai youths have been trained on telemedicine so that the Orang Asli Medical Post can consult FPMPAM on the phone in Pos Lenjang. As telephone network services are unavailable in Kampung Dayok, these trained Mediks are required to travel to Pos Lenjang, which is 30 minutes away by motorbike.
“Fortunately, during our earlier missions, we have ensured that there are adequate stocks of essential medicines in the clinic,” said Dr Chow.
FPMPAM’s DRSforALL initiative, which was launched in January 2019, opened its first medical post on September 29 the same year.
This initiative aimed to provide basic medical services to indigenous communities in remote areas of Peninsula and East Malaysia.
It also directed the local community to be equipped with basic first-aid skills (Mediks) to respond during emergencies, which eventually drove them to be self-reliant.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 epidemic put a halt to FPMPAM doctors’ monthly visits to Kampung Dayok.
“Whenever possible, we continue to provide monthly outreach clinics as part of bantuan perubatan (medical assistance) missions for the community during the Recovery Movement Control Order and Conditional Movement Control Order,” said Dr Chow.
The DRSforALL physicians, aided by the trained Mediks, treated mostly children and females at the Medical Post’s clinics for cough and cold, skin infections, diarrhoea, and head lice, among others.
The Mediks were also trained to be the first responder team who covers situations like physical injuries, chest pain, drowning, choking, a child suffering from fever, fits, vomiting or diarrhoea, or how to give a child oxygen.
Since last year, the implementation of movement restrictions and the unpredictable rainy season have been major logistical challenges for the DRSforALL team to provide physical medical aid to villagers.
Despite the odds, the DRSforALL team is still pursuing this mission with technological advancement by conducting virtual training for the Mediks in Kampung Dayok.
“With existing satellite service, our Mediks team is now regularly updated with meetings and training sessions on Zoom,” Dr Chow added.