Friday, January 29, 2010

The story of "Hannah"

She's nameless. As of the hospital tradition, even those with names are called " B/O - Baby of "someone".

That name lasts until the baby is discharged from hospital.

But for "Hannah" , she remained B/O for a long time. Dont know why mum could not think of a good name, as any mothers would. Hannah was a name through a popular vote; by nurses. And to this day, she remains Hannah.

I refuse to get to know minute details of her early life, for fear that this affects judgement.

But what i know is, at 14 months, she is the longest resident baby in the hospital.A close friend of her's, had been taken away not so long ago , so I was told. Gone, in the authoritative hand of welfare from this 1 nation of ours. Gone, as the nurses told me , to somewhere; a home, they would not place their stray cat into. Surely that's an unkind exaggeration.

Hannah turn for placement was next on the agenda and she patiently waited.

There were of course those with better luck and charm. Although nameless and a B/O, their looks make them attractive. Bookings are often made when they were even in their mother's womb. Documents made ready as they were born .A home not so long after. Different home to the owner of the womb that she'd lived for 9 months. Its OK . That was the deal.

Hannah was different.

By all counts and professional judgments, Hannah is considered abnormal. In as much as her sweet smile tries to compensate, there is no way it could hide her bad squint; or her spastic legs, or that awkward-looking ams;that head lag. Its a text book description that is really a short form of the dreaded word 'handicap'. To some, this means 'special'.

Special as she may seem to be, she is still doomed by hypocrisy of the day.

Wouldn't 'special' mean that she is entitled to at least a decent meal? After all, she does have some teeth!

Or to a loving cuddle?

Or being spoken to?

To rubber teats and bottles?

Nay; nothing of the sort. Sorry Hannah!. We call you special so that we be considered compassionate. We get into the good books of our 1nation- a caring society.

How could we give you things the authorities consider 'unfriendly'?

Bottles, teats, infant formula?. These are unfriendly objects Hannah! - dont you know that? These can never come near our beloved 'baby-friendly' place. We will lose our hard earned , world-certified accolade. "The Baby-Friendly Hospital"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Global Reconciliation Summit Amman Jordan

It was November 2008 when I last visited Jordan to attend the first Reconciliation Summit, organized by Monash University and the RMIT Melbourne.

The Global Reconciliation Summit held in Dec 2009 was a follow up conference , but with a distinct difference

1) Almost 200 delegates participated, most of them were from various areas of conflict in the world- Sri Lanka, Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Turkey, Cyprus, Brazil,Palestine and Occupied Territories and Israel.

2) The delegates were from a variety of background - medical doctors, artists, playwrights, movie writers, journalists, and philosophers

3) Delegates shared their experience dealing with people traumatized by conflicts and their efforts on reconciliation

4) One clear message was, victims and perpetrators of violence and conflict each share similar suffering.The victim suffers from the obvious pain, while the perpetrators suffer from his undignified action of inflicting pain on his fellow human being. One common problem is that they dont share that mutual feeling as hatred is fanned , often by those with deeply vested interest in the continuing conflict.

5) Successful reconciliation efforts are often facilitated by readiness of common people on either side to accept and share mutual feelings of respect. This takes time and requires perseverance

6) I was asked to give some thoughts on the situation in Malaysia

7) I presented a paper entitled "Community-Engagement Projects as a Tool for Teaching Ethics in Medical School - Our Experience "

8) My arguments were as follows : That we in Malaysia must strive to preserve racial harmony especially among professionals by designing a training program that specifically adresseses ethical issues. Failure to do this might enhance highly polarized professional doctors as their primary academic background were not necessarily similar. Promotion of mutual understanding and respect among students can be developed through specific community engagement projects .

9) We in the Medical School Universiti Sains Malaysia regularly conduct the Community and Family Case Studies (CFCS) - a community-engagement project led by medical students of mixed ethnicity. CFCS is an essential component of our training of doctors and involve medical students being 'adopted' by members of the community for a period of 5 weeks during the 2nd and 3 rd year of the medical study.

10) Students identify medical and health -related problems in the community that they are adopted and implement intervention programs that deal with the problems identified

11) They work in groups with mixed ethnic groups and naturally getting engaged with fellow students from other cultures in a highly close setting. They also, at the same time understand the community they live in and appreciate the ethical issues at the most micro level

12) I came to realize that being a medical doctor, we are in the position to appreciate that the differences we notice between individuals are merely 'skin deep'. Having operated and opening up the abdomen of people from colours and creed across the globe, one does not fail to realize that as the outer skin is retracted, everything else is the same inside : the colour, function , smell and suffering! Understanding that , may just slightly facilitate reconciliation!

Happy New Year folks