Free BMA medical and dental care for rural folk

The BMA medical team and local volunteers with Jo (seated fifth left) at All Saints’ BRS Church.

TINA (name has been changed) is 40 years old, sporting slightly long black hair with streaks of grey, and she speaks with a soft pleasant voice.

What she doesn’t have at her age are healthy teeth – nor the money to pay for a set of dentures.

But her dental problems were taken care of when she became a beneficiary of the free medical and dental services provided by the Bridge Medical Association (BMA) from South Korea, a non-profit organisation offering such services to people in the rural and remote areas of Korea and abroad.

This year, the BMA, which was in the state on a week-long medical mission this month, set up a two-day open clinic within the premises of All Saints’ Church at the Borneo Resettlement (BRS), about 40km from Kuching.

Tina recently made a short journey to the settlement from her home in a nearby village to have a dental check-up and treatment, and came away happy with the care and service of the BMA volunteers.

However, for most people, a first visit to the dentist can be a flurried experience.

Another patient said, “As it was the first time I came to see a dentist, I didn’t know what to expect and was very nervous. But it turned out all good. The BMA team made me feel very comfortable and the dentist who treated me is extremely friendly and professional.”

The dentists seemed to be the busiest people during the mission, attending to hundreds of rural folk in need, especially of dentures.

 

Dr Cho Hyung Suk performs a minor external surgery.

 

Dr Kang (right) gets a helping hand from a fellow volunteer while providing dental care.

 

Medical volunteers from Korea check the blood pressure and blood sugar of a patient.

Busy mission at BRS

The open clinic was set up by 38 volunteer doctors, dentists and medical students from South Korea and over their two-day mission (from Feb 15) at BRS, saw about 1,000 patients, mostly from eight villages – Kampung Karu, Kampung Bengoh, Kampung Semadang, Kampung Danu, Kampung Sait, Kampung Pain Bojong, Kampung Rejoi, and Kampung Semban.

The mission was coordinated locally by several church members, acting as translators, and led by All Saints’ BRS Church priest-in-charge Rev Joshua Jo, also from South Korea.

At the end of their two-day work, the medical team had performed probably hundreds of extractions, screenings for diabetes and heart diseases and several minor external surgeries apart from prescribing hundreds of eyeglasses and various medications.

 

Pharmacists hand out prescriptions.

 

Dr Park (right) removes a lump of fat from the arm of a patient, assisted by a fellow volunteer.

 

Patients wait for their turn at the open clinic.

Most common surgery

The removal of what appeared to be lipomas was the most common minor surgery performed during the mission.

Lipomas or lumps of fat can appear on anyone. The growths occur just below the surface of the skin and are generally easily visible.

Lipomas tend to form on the neck, torso, shoulders, arms and near armpits though they can appear essentially anywhere on the body.

Although harmless, lipomas can cause some discomfort when they form on certain parts of the body such as near the joints, according to a middle-aged woman from BRS.

She had an average-sized lipoma near the joint of her left arm removed by orthopaedic surgeon Dr Park Yu Bok. The surgery was performed under local anaesthesia while the patient was awake.

I also had a small lipoma on my right hand removed by the same doctor in about five minutes. It was an easy process – and not painful too. A small incision of about an inch was made on my skin and the lipoma was easily removed.

Targeting rural folk

BMA team leader Dr Kang Gi Chang told thesundaypost the association was formed in 2000 as a non-governmental organisation.

“Our goal is to provide free medical services both domestically and overseas, especially to people in rural areas where there are no hospitals and medical care.

“We have been to Sarawak three times and Bangladesh several times – and also to Nepal and Mongolia since 2000, to name some of the countries we have visited,” he said.

Dr Kang, a dentist, said the team to Sarawak this time around comprised 38 members, including 13 doctors and 21 medical students.

He added that aside from free medical services, BMA’s goals of organising such missions included sharing God’s love and Gospel with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

“We believe God expresses His love to His people through His worshippers and believers. We also want to help the missionaries in Korea carry out their tasks.

“There are so many kinds of doctors and specialists – ranging from dentists and general surgeons to radiologists – giving free services during our missions at home and abroad.”

Nurturing caring attitude

Dr Kang said their domestic and international missions were also aimed at motivating young medical students to help the poor and support the work of the missionaries.

“We’re trying to nurture a caring attitude towards the needy and express God’s love among the young doctors in Korea.

“Our efforts have proven very effective in Korea. Many of our doctors and medical students are directly involved in BMA’s voluntary services, visiting other countries with a deep interest and understanding about the medical needs of the peoples there,” he explained.

According to Dr Park, the doctors from various specialised fields involved in this year’s mission to Sarawak offered free denture care, pain control injection, X-ray, ultrasonography, minor external surgery, inflammation control and preventive medicine.

He said back in Korea, the team gave free medical services to the rural people once a month while the overseas missions were organised three times a year.

“In Korea, our main goal is preaching the Gospel, especially to young medical students, besides helping the poor people to get quality medical care and to support the work of the missionaries,” he said.

The team’s week-long medical mission ended at Kampung Merdang Lumut in Kuching on Feb 19.

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