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
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.