Transforming Lives Through Surgeries in Sarawak with the Global Surgery Initiative

Dr Gunalan Palari Arumugam monitoring the patient’s condition while Dr Liew Ngoh Chin performs surgery

Selangor, 6 April 2023 – A new ray of hope is shining on the underserved regions of Sarawak through a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership, backed by The Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), the Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists (MSA) and Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC). Through the Global Surgery Initiative (GSI) programme, highly skilled and compassionate doctors, medical officers, and nurses from Sarawak General Hospital, Sri Aman Hospital II and SJMC joined hands to perform an impressive 34 surgeries in a week, thereby improving lives and leaving a lasting impact on the communities they serve.

"The GSI initiative is a noble cause that empowers patients without access to critical medical services. We are grateful to be a part of this effort to establish safe and patient-centred anaesthesia. The dedication and expertise of healthcare professionals involved in this programme are remarkable, a testament to their tireless efforts in improving countless lives. This initiative sets an example for us to follow as we work towards bridging critical healthcare gaps and making a difference," said Professor Dr Ina Ismiarti Shariffuddin, President of the Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists (MSA).

From left to right: Dr Azlee bin Ayob, Deputy Director of the Sarawak State Health Department, Dr Hazwani binti Mohd Yusop, Director of Hospital Sri Aman, Dato' Dr Asmayani binti Khalib, Health Deputy Director-general (Medical), Dr Gunalan Palari Arumugam, SJMC Consultant Anaesthesiologist and Critical Care Physician, and Dr. Hasmizy bin Muhammad, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Anaesthesiologist, Head of Department and Sarawak State Head of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Services

From gallstones to kidney failures, a team of highly skilled healthcare professionals tackled a diverse range of complex cases. Among the patients were *Khairul, *Anna, and *Halina, whose remarkable stories exemplify the life-changing impact of the surgeries. These stories bear testament to the crucial role in providing vital surgical interventions to patients in Sarawak, particularly those who may not have had access to such services in their hometowns.

Dr Gunalan Palari Arumugam, Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board, SJMC and Consultant Anaesthesiologist and Critical Care Physician, SJMC worked together with the medical team in performing various surgeries. His inspiring words, "We can be the doers, movers, and shakers of the imperfect healthcare system instead of lamenting its flaws. The success of the project was made possible by the hard work of many individuals, and the hope is that more doctors will come forward to contribute their time and expertise in the future. The GSI programme serves as an example of how individuals can take ownership and responsibility for driving positive change and building a better, more equitable healthcare system for all.”

From Struggle to Triumph: *Khairul's Journey to Successful Gallbladder Surgery, Thanks to Exceptional Care


Despite grappling with recurrent pancreatitis and being admitted to multiple hospitals, *Khairul waited until March 2023 for gallbladder removal surgery. However, his spirits were lifted by the exceptional care, surpassing his expectations with its state-of-the-art facilities. “The doctors and nurses went above and beyond to provide me with compassionate care and unwavering support.

My heartfelt appreciation to each and every member of the hospital's staff, whose professionalism and dedication made my successful surgery possible.” *Khairul experience demonstrates healthcare professionals’ vital role in improving patients' lives.


From Dialysis to Hope: *Anna's Inspiring Journey to Successful Renal Surgery


Despite being diagnosed with end-stage renal failure at 18 and forced to abandon her studies, *Anna remained tenacious and began dialysis treatment in December 2022. Her mother quit her job to take care of her, while her father worked as a grass cutter to support the family through severe financial difficulties. “The news of being selected for surgery was nothing short of a miracle. The joy and gratitude towards the highly skilled healthcare professionals who made it possible were indescribable. The happiness and contentment on my parents' faces were priceless.”

Enduring the Wait with Resilience: *Halina's Journey to Successful Hepaticojejunostomy Surgery Despite the Odds

 Dr Gunalan and Dato' Dr Asmayani visiting a patient recovering after her hepaticojejunostomy surgery. 

*Halina, a 36-year-old laboratory assistant from Betong, underwent the crucial hepaticojejunostomy (a surgical procedure between the hepatic duct and the jejunum portion of the small intestine) after a year-long wait. As a mother of three, being away from her family for the surgery was a daunting experience. Nevertheless, Helen's positive attitude helped her remain hopeful throughout the challenging journey. “My heartfelt gratitude to all the parties involved in my care. I can’t thank them enough.”

Dr Liew Ngoh Chin, SJMC’s Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon (second from left), poses with the team of SJMC and Hospital Sri Aman 2 nurses, and medical experts after completing their last surgery. 

The team of medical experts from SJMC who made the GSI programme a success include not only the surgeons Dr R. Krishnan Raman, Consultant General and Hepatobiliary Surgeon, Dr Haritharan Thamutaram, Consultant General and Hepatobiliary Surgeon and Dr Liew Ngoh Chin, Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon but also a dedicated team of nurses, Angie Ng Pei Shee, Operation Theatre Services Administrator and Lee Sah Bolatero, Staff Nurse, and other healthcare professionals.

The medical team's expertise and tireless efforts were crucial in bringing the Global Surgery Initiative to life. Their commitment to improving access to surgical services is inspiring, urging others to support similar initiatives that bring life-saving treatments closer to underserved communities. Together, every patient can have access to quality healthcare services regardless of their location or financial situation.


Note: *Patient names have been changed to protect their identities. 


1. The Borneo Post
2. The Borneo Post (Printed)
3. Dagang News
4. Edisi Viral
5. Malaysian Business Online