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Medicine

Into the Fourth Year of Joint Free Health Screening

Going to the doctor does not always mean illness. The annual free health screening co-organized by Tzu Chi Singapore and Bukit Panjang Senja-Cashew Community Club’s Women Executive Committee (WEC) is now in its fourth year. Optometry service was offered this time alongside the usual Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine consultations.


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Photo: Ong Chun Suan

Having participated in the Tzu Chi-Yuhua Community Club (CC) health screening last July, Singapore Polytechnic Optometry lecturer Ms Yeo Chwee Hong again led 25 optometrists and prospective optometrists to provide eye services at the Senja-Cashew CC health screening. In addition to myopia test, the team also offered the rare intra-ocular pressure and ocular fundus (interior lining of the eyeball) examinations for the residents.

"Many members of the public are not aware that they can request for such tests in optical stores and most people end up discovering they have glaucoma or cataract only when they sensed their eyesight is deteriorating, which is often too late." Ms Yeo added that if the condition was discovered late, the doctor can only try to prevent the patient's eyesight from rapid deterioration; but if the illness was detected early, the doctor can try to decrease the patient's intra-ocular pressure to limit the injuries of optic nerve and slow down visual degeneration.

Besides the 25 optometry personnel led by Ms Yeo, a total of 78 Tzu Chi volunteers, 59 Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) medical personnel, 32 WEC members and nine students were mobilized to support the event.

15-year-old Marija Beatriz Tuble from Assumption English School was seen wiping the white chairs meticulously at the waiting area before the health screening begins. This was the teenager's third time participating in a Tzu Chi activity following a Tzu Chi blood donation drive and a community recycling activity.

Marija particularly admired the harmonious teamwork of the Tzu Chi uncles and aunties as "everyone here stick to their duties and work together to complete their designated tasks unlike in some school activities when often it is a lack of coordination that causes problems to team bonding".

Although she has been standing all day helping with the roadside publicity, she did not mind it at all and smilingly said that she would rather come here to volunteer than to kill time at home.

In Singapore, one in four persons suffers from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Some local companies do provide staff with health check-up as part of their company’s welfare but it is not easy for companies to arrange health screening on weekends.

Mr Luo Li Xiang, a young Indonesian Chinese, who had been postponing his health screening due to his hectic workload, was here because of the convenient location at the CC and it being held on a weekend. He also brought his wife who has never participated in health screening before to get some tests done.

Mr Luo's blood pressure used to be unstable and part of his reasons for delaying a proper check-up was the fear of knowing. When told that his blood pressure is in the healthy levels, the expatriate heaved a sigh of relief and promised to heed the doctor's advice to exercise more.

As Mr Luo and his wife walked past the Jing Si Publication booth after they were done with the screenings, they could not help being attracted to the exquisite eco-friendly utensils on display. The couple stopped to learn more about Tzu Chi's environmental concept from the volunteers and bought a set of reusable fork and spoon as a gift to their friend.

"My younger brother and brother-in-law were both quite healthy. They were diagnosed with oesophagus cancer and colon cancer respectively a few years ago and passed away one after another," recalled Mdm Fu Xiu Xia with tears glistening in her eyes.

Mdm Fu agreed that many symptoms can be detected through health screening and be effectively controlled before they become chronic. With screening results that showed her blood pressure and blood sugar level to be on the high side, she said that she will reduce intake of foods high in sugar and salinity and do more exercise.

The free health screenings co-hosted by Tzu Chi Singapore and Senja-Cashew CC’s Women Executive Committee has benefited a total of 1,373 residents over the past three years. All in all, this recent screening has served a total of 304 residents in the area of Western medicine consultation, 198 in TCM consultation and 285 in the optometry section.

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The annual free health screening has definitely made preventive healthcare easy for the neighbourhood residents. (Photo by Ong Chun Suan)

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Detecting glaucoma requires a full ophthalmic examination including ocular fundus examination to assess the condition of the optic disk. Seen here is an optometrist examining the eye of a resident. (Photo by Ong Chun Suan)

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Singapore Polytechnic Optometry lecturer Yeo Chwee Hong (left) leads a group of optometrists and prospective optometrists to provide eye services at the health screening. (Photo by Ong Chun Suan)

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Marija Beatriz Tuble, 15, is happy to volunteer at the health screening site (Photo by Ong Chun Suan)

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Mdm Fu Xiu Xia, who lost her younger brother and brother-in-law to cancer, firmly believes that prevention is better than cure. (Photo by Ong Chun Suan)

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The Luo couple stopped by the Jing Si Publication booth to check out the eco-friendly utensils after their health check-up. (Photo by Ong Chun Suan)


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