Prof Dr Nik Omar describes the
In early 1987, a land trip by Toyota Land Cruises
escorted by Mujaheddin Freedom Fighters treads its way early in the morning over the
treacherous Khyaber Pass in Northern Pakistan. The vehicles are carrying Malaysian
Homeopathic Medical Volunteers from The Registerd Malaysian Homeopathic Medical
Practitioners Association (MRHP); they were on their way to staff a Mobile Homoeopathic
Clininc in freedom fighters' held territory, near Jalalabad inside Afghanistan.
There they will treat civilians and Mujahideen
wounded in the war between Mujahideen Afghan Freedom Fighters and the Soviet backed
Around the world, in war zones and areas striken
by natural disasters, this special breed of homeopathic doctor and nurse are infusing the
Hippocratic Oath with fresh force, risking their lives out of commitment to what Prof Dr
Nik Omar, one of the founders of this volunteer-medics movement calls "The duty to
These are some of the first ever medical
volunteers from homeopathic groups in the world to treat tribespeople for diarrhoea and
malaria in Yala, Narathiwat, and Nakornsithamarat in Thailand. In slum ares in Colombo,
the same group were giving free treatment for worms and tropical diseases to children and
adults in rural areas of Walliwata Bridge. In the deep jungles of Malaysia, they treat the
'Orang Asli' ( aborigines ) for skin disesaes and jaundice.They are there cleaning
bandages on victims of land mines and gunshot under mortar fire and bombing in Afghanistan
and giving treatment for ailments to the refugees in camps around Peshawar, Pakistan, etc.
Every year approximately 50 homoeopathic doctors
from Malaysia give up their annual holidays. They make their medical knowledge and skills
available to the charity - Homeopathic Doctors Without Barriers, free of charge for a
period of a least four days, and up to eight weeks. On top of this, they even pay for
their flight to help the country to which they are sent.
In 1979 Prof Dr Nik Omar, the President of the
Association established the organisation in Kota Bharu with the aim of providing medical
help in countries with low levels of medical provision. Since then he has been able to
arrange almost 80 assigments worldwide, including Malaysia. They work in various projects
in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombo, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Indonesia.
They volunteer for all kinds of reasons. Some
serve out of moral duty, others adventure and challenge. Some grasp the opportunity to be
in the real life laboratory where nearly every case is an emergency.
Many of these members discover that much of what
they learned at The Faculty of Homeopathy Malaysia is irrelevant to the life and death
crises and health needs of millions of the world's poorest people and finally decided to
venture forth as the Malaysian Homeopathic Volunteer Medical Corps.
Prof Dr Nik Omar, 49, the founder member of the
group, vividly recalls his apprehension. Early one morning in Autumn 1987, the Malaysian
Volunteers were discussing some of the cases they had treated the day before. As it
happened, the mountainside also made an excellent lookout from which to scan the skies for
approaching MIG 25 Fighter Bombers. All of a sudden, a dozen bombs dropped around our
hospital, but they were poorly targeted and we all were safe. It became so, that
throughout our service in Afghanistan, the bombing was a routine and there was
bombing at our camp near the Pakistani border almost every day and night. It was a
strain to our voulnteers, who had also to cope with the lack of equitment and medicines,
and a workload of over 150 patients a day with artillery shell exploding overhead.
" There is a tremendous responsibility in
knowing that you are the only doctor in the desert for 20,000 to 50,000 people. You are
often alone in making a decision on who should treated and who should be sent for further
emergency treatment in a hosiptal 300 to 400 kilometers away. And when you are alone, you
are always thinking, "Maybe I was wrong."
The idea of forming the volunteer group in
Malaysia, started in London in 1975 when Dr Nik Omar met with a member of the French-based
organisation Médicines Sans Frontières who invited him to join the group but he refused
due to his pressing studies in England. He came back to Malaysia in 1977 and wondered
about the possibilities of setting up a similar volunteers' group based on Malaysian
The nucleus started in 1979 during the flood
seasons on the East Coast of Kelantan. When it was started the sole member was Dr Nik
Omar, but by the end of 1998 there were 500 members of MRHP and 50 active members in the
volunteer group. Ever since it started in 1979 more than 50,000 Malays in rural areas
already get free tretament from this group, with various projects all over Malaysia.
Prof Dr Nik Omar is always ready with new
assignments and duties to carry out charity's organisational work and he is proud of the
fact that almost all his assignemtns are successfully done well in time.
" We are not carrying out development works. We are not able to bring any changes in
our patients' living conditions, nor in structures of the countries concerned," adds
Dr Che Musa Che Mohammad, an active volunteer who has served on many missions abroad.
Nevertheless the work in the slums, where the
doctors also live during their stay in the Third World, gives personal satisfaction. It is
not only important that acute hardship and pain can be alleviated. "In relation to
the experience we take home with us, we take a lot more from the people there, than we
actually invest ourselves," says homeopathic paediatrician Associate Professor Dr
Mohd Nasir bin Mohd Zain, who has just returned from Colombo, in Sri Lanka slum areas off
Waliwata Bridge. He is also the secretary general of The Asian Homeopathic Medical League
(AHML) for the Malaysian Chapter.
Dr Mohammad Ali Hamzah, who served in Pakistani
Refugee Camps, told us that he has learnt a great deal from the people in those areas who
radiate vitality and confidence in spite of their poverty. " When you return from
such trip, you stand above the everyday concerns of the normal Malaysian, " says
Professor Dr Mohammad Hairuddin Hamid, who is also president of MRHP Johor Branch. He has
served in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while his brother Dr Maohmad Fauzy Hamid served in Sri
Lanka for two weeks.
Inexperienced doctors are not sent to the
projects. "The doctors have to fulfil certain requirements. In addition to
qualification, character is also important. Anyone who is squearmish and can't do without
sweet-smelling bath water would do better to stay at home," sums up Dr (Mrs) Faridah
Awang Hamat, another volunteer who just returned from Nakorn Sithamarat, Thailand's worst
flooded disaster area.
The aid provided by Doctors Without Barriers is
financed exclusively by members of MRHP, donations and support from a group of sponsors
who bear the administrative costs. "One hundred percent of the money donated goes
directy to the projects, " stated Dr Mohd Nasir, who is also finance conroller of the
association. With five volunteer staff he runs an office, a small room attached to the
Homeopathic Medical Center owned by Dr Nik Omar, at Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 450 kilometres
from Kuala Lumpur, near the Thai border.
From: Prof Dr Nik Omar
No.11, Bangunan Tabung Haji lama,
Jalan Dato Pati, 15000 Kota Bharu, Malaysia.