“It feels right although I was not 100 percent ready,” said Dr. Mardiana Kipli, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Sarawak General Hospital. She, who is also a medical lecturer from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak was in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh for two weeks; serving on a humanitarian mission. She swears that it was the best impulsive decision she has ever made.
Serving under Malaysian NGO, IMARET (IMAM Response and Relief Team) Mardiana was deployed to Kutupalong Camp for two weeks, together with two medical officers from the Ministry of Health. The operation is supported by the Malaysian Field Hospital (operated by Malaysian Armed Forces), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Council and NGOs.
Mardiana’s day began as early as 7 am as the camp is located about two hours from Cox’s Bazar town, where the volunteers stayed. More than half a million settlers took refuge at the poorly infrastructured encampment, mostly made of bamboo and plastic tarps strewn all over the place. There are no roads, just dusty footpaths along steep, hilly, open area making access to the nearest clinic and hospital even more challenging. The populations are desperately in need for a proper health services.
Entering the second week, her responsibility expanded from 200 to 500 cases a day ranging from respiratory infection, dysentery, diarrhoea, asthma, eye and ear infection, jaundice, diphtheria and also wound injuries. As an Obstetrician, Dr. Mardiana also looked after pregnant and post-delivery women, mostly battling with certain complications. Due to topographical constraints, pregnant mothers on labour had to deliver at the camp; resulted in a higher case of postnatal mothers suffering from infection and their baby ended up with sepsis. The NGOs are trying to improve this condition by building more delivery suites inside the camp.
Although only a two-week stint, Dr. Mardiana has gained so much from her experience as a medical volunteer. She gets to work closely with international NGOs and the volunteer comradery that has been fostered at the camp was remarkable. Finding the Rohingya as warm and friendly, her arrival at the camp was often greeted with smiles and ‘Good morning, how are you?’.
“Seeing sweet smiles on the kids’ faces every morning is what got me going. I feel their hardship and I truly feel there is always more that can be done. Not only they have been denied the basic things in life, as sentient human beings they have suffered unreasonably. In all seriousness I urge my fellow countrymen, especially the professionals to extend their expertise by signing up. I promise it will not only add value to your résumé but it shall turn you into a more compassionate, grateful and contented person”, she explained.
Malaysia is one of the country that responded to humanitarian mission in Cox's Bazar to cater to Rohingya refugees who fled west of Myanmar due to humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine region. Those who wish to sign up to provide assistance and essential aid for Rohingya refugees in desperate need can do so by visiting IMARET official FB website for more details.
*Dr. Mardiana Kipli is also the Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, Faculty of Medicines and Health Sciences at UNIMAS, Kota Samarahan*