On A Res­cue Mis­sion

This month, the coun­try’s first char­i­ta­ble car­diac di­ag­nos­tic cen­tre opens. We speak to Dato’ ’Aliyah Karen, the lady be­hind the ini­tia­tive

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

This char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion is mak­ing car­diac health­care af­ford­able

We cel­e­brate World Heart Day on Septem­ber 26 and there’s no time more fit­ting than this month to spread aware­ness about how heart dis­ease is crit­i­cally af­fect­ing the lives of Malaysians right now. In 2016, is­chaemic heart dis­eases was the prin­ci­pal cause of death among Malaysians – it ac­counted for 13.2 per cent (that’s 21,410 lives) from the to­tal num­ber of deaths; in fact, it has been the lead­ing cause of death in the coun­try for the last 20 years. That’s a shock­ing fig­ure, and it goes to show how many of us have coro­nary heart dis­ease or is at risk of de­vel­op­ing it.

Reach­ing out to needy heart pa­tients

A pro­gramme ini­ti­ated and ex­pe­dited by the MAA Medi­care Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion un­der the lead­er­ship of its CEO, Dato’ ’Aliyah Karen, the MAA Medi­care Car­diac Di­ag­nos­tic Cen­tre will open its doors to the pub­lic this month to pro­vide qual­ity care for un­der­priv­i­leged car­diac pa­tients at a highly sub­sidised cost.

’Aliyah, as she is fondly known, has been the driv­ing force since the

pro­gramme’s in­cep­tion. She has been serv­ing in the foun­da­tion for the last 20 years and is a cen­tral fig­ure in the ex­pan­sion of the foun­da­tion’s first ini­tia­tive – the MAA Medi­care Char­ity Dial­y­sis Cen­tre – that was set up in 1994 to as­sist needy kid­ney pa­tients who could not af­ford haemodial­y­sis treat­ment.

The car­diac pa­tient’s dilemma

’Aliyah ex­plains that many car­diac pa­tients are trapped in the “car­diac pa­tient’s dilemma” where they can­not af­ford treat­ment at pri­vate hos­pi­tals, yet can­not spare the four- to eight­month wait to re­ceive treat­ment at a gov­ern­ment hospi­tal. In ad­di­tion, there are also pa­tients who are “not poor enough” to be el­i­gi­ble for sub­sidised treat­ment at gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals. “Far too many pa­tients can­not af­ford fol­lowup treat­ment and this al­most al­ways re­sults in their death. This has a far­reach­ing im­pact,” ’Aliyah opines. “When a bread­win­ner suc­cumbs to the dis­ease, the fam­ily loses its only in­come earner.”

Part­ner­ing with the Min­istry of Health, the goal of the MAA Medi­care Car­diac Di­ag­nos­tic Cen­tre is to ease the bur­den of needy pa­tients by pro­vid­ing on-time qual­ity med­i­cal treat­ment by a team of ex­pe­ri­enced and renowned car­di­ol­o­gists and car­diac sur­geons at a highly sub­sidised rate. “For in­stance, where the cost of an an­gio­plasty pro­ce­dure ranges be­tween RM28,000 to RM30,000 at a pri­vate hospi­tal, the car­diac di­ag­nos­tic cen­tre aims to pro­vide the same ser­vice at RM15,000,” says ’Aliyah. “It’s also about pre­ven­tive care. We want the man on the street to be able to walk in for a stress test or elec­tro­car­dio­gram, talk to a car­di­ol­o­gist, and know the health of their heart. With early de­tec­tion, we can take proac­tive steps to re­duce the risk of a per­son de­vel­op­ing coro­nary heart dis­ease,” she con­tin­ues.

“Our goal is to pro­vide on-time qual­ity med­i­cal treat­ment by ex­pe­ri­enced car­di­ol­o­gists and car­diac sur­geons at a highly sub­sidised rate”

Think pa­tients’ wel­fare

’Aliyah’s con­vic­tion is that the foun­da­tion should be run with a spirit of com­pas­sion and a heart to care; these are the val­ues that she in­cul­cates in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s staff. She is a chief who firmly be­lieves in prac­tis­ing good gov­er­nance, trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in all as­pects of the foun­da­tion’s op­er­a­tions. As such, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s fi­nan­cial state­ments are made pub­lic and pa­tients are screened by the Medi­care Wel­fare Depart­ment to ver­ify their need for as­sis­tance.

Be­yond pro­vid­ing med­i­cal care, MAA Medi­care has set up a Pa­tients’ Wel­fare Fund to as­sist needy pa­tients who find dif­fi­culty in mak­ing ends meet by pro­vid­ing free gro­ceries, trans­porta­tion, med­i­ca­tion, and treat­ment. Its Kids@ Medi­care pro­gramme sup­ports the school-go­ing chil­dren of pa­tients by pro­vid­ing back-to-school ne­ces­si­ties and or­gan­is­ing hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties.

The RM10 mil­lion MAA Medi­care Car­diac Di­ag­nos­tic Cen­tre is a 10-bed fa­cil­ity equipped with state-of-the-art equip­ment, such as the Multi Slice CT Scan, and with the ca­pa­bil­ity to per­form pro­ce­dures like coro­nary an­giogram and an­gio­plasty. The MAA Medi­care Car­diac Di­ag­nos­tic Cen­tre is lo­cated at Wisma MAA Medi­care, No. 183, Jalan Sul­tan Azlan Shah, 51200 KL. Visit to know more.


’Aliyah vis­it­ing a dyal­i­sis pa­tient.

Chil­dren of pa­tients gather for Kids@Medi­care school hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties at Kuch­ing, Sarawak.

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