Observed on 27 February annually, across the globe, #WorldNGODay is the day to celebrate NGOs (non-government organisations) and recognise them for the incredible work and effort they have contributed to the society. This international calendar day also hopes to encourage a greater symbiosis between NGOs and both the public and private sector—as the world gets together to “Celebrate, Commemorate and Collaborate”.

As the World NGO Day is just days shy of March—let us also prep ourselves for the International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March. With that, MIMS Today’s editorial desk has identified four outstanding women in healthcare who have made tremendous impact in NGOs—leading the way—as they spearhead greater efforts and press for progress.

1. Dr Fauziah Hasan

Dr Fauziah was awarded the 'Serikandi Al-Azwar' (Iron Angel) award and RM5,000 cash by the Terengganu government for her participation in the 'Women's Boat to Gaza' (WBG). Photo credit: Bernama/Malay Mail Online
Dr Fauziah was awarded the 'Serikandi Al-Azwar' (Iron Angel) award and RM5,000 cash by the Terengganu government for her participation in the 'Women's Boat to Gaza' (WBG). Photo credit: Bernama/Malay Mail Online

Dr Fauziah has been very actively involved in humanitarian activities, starting with Malaysian Medical Relief Society MERCY Malaysia, where she was a Treasurer from 2000 to 2006. She has participated in numerous missions—namely Kosovo (1999), Maluku Indonesia (2000), Afghanistan (2001 – 2003), Aceh (2005), Pakistan (2005) and Gaza (2009).

She was then active in Aqsa Syarif, a Malaysian humanitarian NGO in support of the Palestinians, which became an agency under the umbrella of Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCARE), in 2015. Dr Fauziah was Deputy Chairperson of Aqsa Syarif from 2010, and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of MyCARE.

Since 2011, she has been the Advisor of Rose2Rose (R2R), another agency of MyCARE, which focuses on empowering women and children. She has led its campaign to care for the many unfortunate women and children in Palestine, Syria and Rohingya, and another mission to Gaza in 2012.

In 2016, her story made headlines as she was Malaysia's sole representative in the “Women's Boat to Gaza” (WBG) mission—where their humanitarian ship, Zaytouna-Oliva was illegally detained by the Israeli authorities.

She is currently a Consultant at Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital, Kuala Lumpur.

2. Dr Christina Ng Van Tze

Dr Christina at the launch of EMPOWERED’s 6th annual Colorectal Cancer Awareness, Screening and Treatment Project, in 2016. Photo credit: EMPOWERED
Dr Christina at the launch of EMPOWERED’s 6th annual Colorectal Cancer Awareness, Screening and Treatment Project, in 2016. Photo credit: EMPOWERED

Dr Christina Ng is the founder and president of EMPOWERED, The Cancer Advocacy Society of Malaysia.

Through her work in EMPOWERED, Dr Ng has been known for being passionate in fighting for under-resourced communities. She has been awarded for her continuous efforts in channeling equal access to life-saving colorectal screening and treatment programs for under-privileged Malaysians which has reached over 100,000 Malaysians who fit the criteria.

In 2007, Dr Ng launched her book entitled ‘My Journal’—with the aim to empower and educate patients on chemotherapy for cancer. The publication is available in four languages (English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil) to allow access to Malaysians from of various ethnic backgrounds. Over 10,000 copies have been freely distributed to government hospitals with cancer centres.

Then, Dr Ng launched a public awareness campaign in 2016—highlighting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer with active participation by the medical industry, other private industries, medical schools, oncology and genetic experts, as well as other NGOs.

Dr Ng is currently a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Onco Life Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

“I feel honoured to have the opportunity to speak to Dr Ng – and be able to listen to her journey, her passion and commitment towards what she does,” expresses our writer, Dr Nor Anisa Hanan (right), seen here posing for a picture with Dr Christina Ng.
“I feel honoured to have the opportunity to speak to Dr Ng – and be able to listen to her journey, her passion and commitment towards what she does,” expresses our writer, Dr Nor Anisa Hanan (right), seen here posing for a picture with Dr Christina Ng.

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3. Matron Fadzilah Abd Hamid

Matron Fadzilah giving a keynote speech to officiate the outreach programme named POSITHIV on 11 November 2017 at Rumah Solehah by the UTAR Corporate Communication final year students from the Faculty of Creative Industries. Photo credit: UTAR
Matron Fadzilah giving a keynote speech to officiate the outreach programme named POSITHIV on 11 November 2017 at Rumah Solehah by the UTAR Corporate Communication final year students from the Faculty of Creative Industries. Photo credit: UTAR

Matron Fadzilah is the full-time caregiver at Rumah Solehah—a shelter for HIV-positive women, who have been shunned by their families and society. Matron Fadzilah was among the first to set up the shelter on behalf of the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia back in 1998.

In the 20 years that the shelter has been operational, she has taken care of over 300 women with HIV—providing assistance, not only with their basic needs, but also helping them to find meaning again in their life. As one of the first shelters of its kind, it was not an easy start. With limited funds, the shelter was not well equipped initially. Nonetheless, throughout the years and with increasing awareness, the shelter has managed to stand on its own and are now taking in children with HIV as well.

Living in a shared home, the residents have their own problems, while fights and altercations are often inevitable. Matron Fadzilah took it upon herself to nurture, teach and discipline them with tough love. What presents as the ultimate challenge is that the residents come and go—so, the cycle will repeat whenever new residents move in.

Matron Fadzilah flipping through the photo albums, reminiscing some of the nostalgic moments. Photo credit: Matron Fadzilah Abd Hamid
Matron Fadzilah flipping through the photo albums, reminiscing some of the nostalgic moments. Photo credit: Matron Fadzilah Abd Hamid

Forever grateful: A little note of “Thank You” – expressing gratitude, appreciation and admiration – brings a warm glow of joy to her heart. Photo credit:  Matron Fadzilah Abd Hamid
Forever grateful: A little note of “Thank You” – expressing gratitude, appreciation and admiration – brings a warm glow of joy to her heart. Photo credit: Matron Fadzilah Abd Hamid

Before running Rumah Solehah, Matron Fadzilah was a public health nurse where she worked in rural areas in Malaysia—teaching about health and nutrition. She also specialised in maternal and obstetric health—and treating patients sometimes meant having to hop on helicopters and sampans to get to them during an emergency. Matron Fadzilah’s 30 years of travelling state to state has eventually led her to realise that drug use was becoming a problem in rural communities—and along with it came a rise in HIV cases.

Matron Fadzilah jumped at the opportunity when the Ministry of Health (MOH) asked her to start a rehabilitation shelter for HIV-positive sex workers in Kuala Lumpur. She took up a counselling course in the UK in 1994, before returning to Malaysia to do some research on the life of the sex workers. However, the project was not approved by the parliament. Hence, she decided to start on her own—marking the humble beginnings of Rumah Solehah.

4. Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood

Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood is the recipient of many national and international awards for her cause, the most recent being the Merdeka Award 2015 – for outstanding contribution to the development of humanitarian and international emergency relief. Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood is the recipient of many national and international awards for her cause, the most recent being the Merdeka Award 2015 – for outstanding contribution to the development of humanitarian and international emergency relief. Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood is well known to be the founder of the Malaysian Medical Relief Society (MERCY Malaysia), where she was the president from 1999 to 2009. She was a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist before being involved in humanitarian work full time.

During a MERCY Malaysia mission in 2003, Dr Jemilah was shot in the hip while on the way to deliver medical supplies to a children’s hospital in Iraq. The bullet had gone through her friend, Dr Baba and a thick Reader's Digest book before hitting her hip. She then stitched herself up, left the bullet in, and got Dr Baba on the operating table—crying and wondering if she has made a grave mistake dragging her team from MERCY Malaysia through a war-torn country. Soon after, she performed an emergency C-section on a badly anaemic patient and successfully delivered a healthy baby boy—all while still having the bullet in her leg! In that mission, two people died, while two other doctors were injured.

From 2009 to 2011, Dr Jemilah was in charge of the humanitarian branch of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in New York City, where she directed her efforts toward reproductive health, gender-based violence, and emergency population data. In May 2014, Dr Jemilah was appointed to head the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat at the United Nations Office, for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) headquarters in New York.

Since January 2016, Dr Jemilah has served as Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). MIMS


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Sources:
https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/10/295731/2018-budget-rm-50-mil-boost-ngo-activities-address-social-ills
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/10/27/budget-2018-fails-to-address-core-environmental-issues-say-ngos/
https://wbg.freedomflotilla.org/fauziah-hasan-physician
http://www.sinarharian.com.my/rencana/dr-fauziah-tokoh-ngo-islam-1.775511
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/malaysia-matron-heals-tough-love-hiv-aids-shelter-solehah-9407082
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/29/their-days-come-alive-for-rumah-solehah-residents/