Volunteers, organisations praised at humanitarian medical missions conference

Dr Meera Ravindran (third from left), a medical officer with the Singapore General Hospital’s department of renal medicine, with the mother of a baby boy that she helped delivered when she volunteered to help earthquake victims in Bohol, Philippine
Dr Meera Ravindran (third from left), a medical officer with the Singapore General Hospital’s department of renal medicine, with the mother of a baby boy that she helped delivered when she volunteered to help earthquake victims in Bohol, Philippines, on Oct 9, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: SINGAPORE RED CROSS SOCIETY

SINGAPORE - Although Singapore is small, it is not too small to help its neighbours, especially in humanitarian medical missions, said Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.

He was speaking at the Singapore General Hospital's first International Conference on Humanitarian Medical Missions, which will bring together volunteers to share knowledge and expertise on the topic.

Prof Koh commended doctors and nurses, including some in Singapore, who have risked their lives by volunteering in Ebola-hit nations in West Africa.

He also praised four Singapore institutions- the Singapore International Foundation, the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore General Hospital and KK Hospital- for volunteering in emergency situations here and overseas.

The SAF medical team, led by Bahasa-speaking officers, for example, was among the first to arrive to help Indonesian civilians when the tsunami struck in 2004.

Professor Koh also praised four role models- Singhealth doctors Professor Lee Seng Teik, Professor Anette Jacobson, Professor Anantharaman and gastroenterologist Dr Tan Chi Chiu- who have volunteered many times overseas. Prof Anantha, for example, is leading a team from Singhealth to set up a disaster training system in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

"Through your kind deeds, you have replaced suffering with relief, despair with hope, taught the trainers and left positive legacy," he said.