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22 October 2016

[Borneo Post Online] SEGi medical students learn valuable lessons at HAP

SIBU: Three medical students of SEGi University learned to be more compassionate and patient after three days of participation in the Healthy Athletes Programme (HAP) for disabled children in Bintulu early this month, which would help them advance in the medical field.

Brandon Goh Jen Fei, 22, Nur Izzah Syahira Azizi, 22, and Kamini Manohyaran Pillai, 25 said the just-concluded HAP taught them to be more approachable and new ways to communicate effectively.

“We just started our third year and we are doing our practical stuff now, so this is a good platform for us to learn about clinical setting, hands-on skills and we learned to talk to different patients.

“This programme definitely is beneficial because communicating with the special children is a bit different from communicating with normal people.

“We need to build rapport with them first and some of them were quite difficult to get comfortable with, so we need to learn to communicate with them effectively,” Goh told The Borneo Post in a recent interview.

This was the second time the three medical students participated in HAP and this time they met more people with different conditions.

For Kamini, she learned to be as friendly as possible and learned hand signs to coax some children to do things she asked.

“However, we found out that most of them are not afraid to try new stuff, which is quite the opposite of us.

“For example, we had dances and many of them just randomly joined the dance whereas normal people tend to shy away, so we definitely can learn to be braver from them,” she enthused.

For Nur Izzah, she said she learned not to judge the book by its cover as most of them were quite talented. “I joined because I wanted the experience. I remember before entering medical school, I was afraid to meet them, but now when I finally got to talk to them, they are in fact friendlier than the people we meet in our everyday life,” she pointed out.

She said no one should think of them as disabled but instead treat them as normal human beings.

On the director of HAP Associate Professor Dr Toh Teck Hock, they said Dr Toh had shown great leadership and they were inspired by his dedication for the special children. Goh regarded Dr Toh as a very humble person and professional in his work.

“Apart from his job, he is still doing his charity and gives his time to charity; he is doing more than what he needs to do and that really inspired us,” Goh said.

Kamini hoped that more people could spend some time with the less fortunate and the disabled kids and get to know them better.

Meanwhile, more than 100 nurses, doctors, specialists, medical students and volunteers were involved in the three-day event from Sept 30 to Oct 2.

Six disciplines – health promotion, fun fitness, special smile (dental), fit feet, opening eyes and healthy hearing – were taught during the event.

HAP was held in conjunction with the 4th Special Olympics Sarawak Games to improve the lifestyle and health of the Special Olympics children.

The HAP has been an important programme for the special children as most of them do not realise that they have health issues affecting their eyes, hearing and dental conditions.

Family Medicine specialist from Bintulu Health Clinic Dr Sheela Mithra described HAP as a place to educate parents on the importance of health screening.

“This is very important for the children and the families and should be continued every year. These are unique children and the way to approach them and to teach them is something new to me,” she said.

For the Opening Eyes programme, ophthalmologist Dr Chieng Le Ling said some of the children could not see well and during the HAP, the children were given free eye screening and free glasses as well.

On the hearing session, Dr Doris Evelyn Jong Yah Hii from Doris Jong ENT Specialist Clinic Miri said it was a good programme for both the children and their parents.

“Through this programme, the parents will know the proper channel,” she said.

After the screening at HAP, the children who had problem with their health would then be referred to the nearest hospital to them.

During the HAP, it was revealed that 36 per cent of the children had oral and teeth problems; 10 per cent had Otitis Media Work Effusion (OME); 15 per cent had wax; more than 30 children needed glasses or new glasses; three children had undetected cataracts and five squints untreated; 60 per cent were either overweight or obese; five per cent suffered from hypertension; and 84 per cent needed arch support for their shoes.

About 100 pairs of sunglasses were provided during the event.

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