UNHCR, Care Clinics launch affordable healthcare programme for refugees

 

Richard Towle (left) from UNHCR and Dr Ram Prakash Sreedharan (right) from Care Clinics at the MOU signing to provide affordable primary healthcare services for refugees in the Klang Valley, Malaysia.   © Y. Ismail/UNHCR

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 August 2018 – The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and primary healthcare provider Careclinics Healthcare Services (Care Clinic) today launched a programme to provide affordable primary healthcare services for refugees in the Klang Valley.

This programme provides subsided and fixed-price primary healthcare for refugees through Care Clinics’ chain of 23 medical facilities around the Klang Valley, many situated close to where refugee communities live.

“Life for refugees in Malaysia is very difficult. Because they are considered as illegal immigrants by law, they are unable to work legally in the country and are often unable to afford basic healthcare services,” said Richard Towle, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia. “Early treatment at primary healthcare facilities and better education can prevent illnesses that, if left untreated, would cost more to refugee families and to Malaysia.”

“UNHCR warmly welcomes this collaboration with Care Clinics to make primary care treatment more accessible for refugees in Malaysia, thereby improving their welfare.”

The programme takes effect immediately and will provide basic outpatient treatment, antenatal care for pregnant women, and minor surgical procedures and injuries, and is open for all refugees and asylum-seekers.

“Today, marks a historic endeavour for us at Care Clinics,” said Dr Ram Prakash Sreedharan, CEO of Careclinics Healthcare Services. “It is a day where we can uphold an ancient promise which we took as young doctors.”

Citing an excerpt of the Hippocratic Oath, Dr Sreedharan said that the doctor’s responsibility includes not only treating the sick person but to understand that consequences of illness on the person’s family and economic stability.

“The MOU we are signing today has resonated strongly within the treatment halls of our medical practice. Each doctor in our organization has been given the flexibility to interpret the contents of this document as a guide and not to hesitate to render aid when needed, and to employ discretion in their charges,” said Dr Sreedharan.

There are some 158,000 refugees registered with UNHCR today, with the majority coming from Myanmar. Refugees have access to public and private healthcare facilities in the country but factors including cost, fear of movement, and language limitations prohibit access to healthcare services.

“Partnerships with private healthcare providers like Care Clinics is a good example of private sector involvement in reducing the burden of healthcare on the public healthcare system, while ensuring that marginalised communities get the healthcare they need,” said Towle.

“This programme creates affordable healthcare for an extremely vulnerable population, thus curbing any public health problems within this group.”