Saturday, June 08, 2013

Pope & Medical Doctors

POPE AND MEDICAL DOCTORS Church for the Poor : What Pope Francis teaches us Catholic Doctors The Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio was just elected Pope a few weeks ago, just before Easter, taking the regnal name Francis. Nevertheless, through his nature and character, he has established his own style of Papacy, much to the admiration of a lot of us. As Catholic doctors, there is a lot we can learn from Pope Francis, and we should actually look up to him as a role model in serving the people. Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, he is a figure who is humble and very concerned about the poor and disadvantaged. When we identify ourselves as Catholic doctors, we are not mere doctors who happen to believe in the Catholic faith, but we are medical professionals who incorporate Catholic teachings into our daily activities. Do we base our actions on the honest intention to improve the general well-being of people or is making money our sole reason of carrying out our duties? Have we shown humility as doctors and provide the most sincere care to our patients, or do we just consider them as objects? In treating our patients, do we consider all of them equal? Or do we turn a blind eye on our patients who are struggling financially? It is important to acknowledge the reality that a lot of the world’s 7 billion people are living under the poverty line. In line with this, we have to also appreciate that a lot of these impoverished people have trouble accessing the appropriate healthcare they deserve, particularly in the developing countries in Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe. In my opinion, the first point we have fully grasp is that we could become who we are now as medical professionals not only because of our talents and efforts, but also because of God’s will. Through His grace and with His blessings, we develop our talents and skills to become experts in our respective medical fields, such as cardiology, surgery, gynaecology, and so on. Using this expertise to serve the patients with sincerity and humility, especially those who are financially disadvantaged, is our noble way to thank God for the privileges He has given us. We have to remember Jesus’ message to us when He talked about the kingdom of heaven and the last judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). There He emphasised that whatever we do to the least of his brethren, we do it to Him. It is through these lowly and poor people that we could see the face of Jesus. Furthermore, as we recall, from the parable of the good Samaritan, the two greatest commandments Jesus gave us are to love God unconditionally and to love others as ourselves (Luke 10:25-37, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18). Combining this with our oath, is it important to always realise that it should be our nature to serve people without discrimination. Pope Francis has called us all, including us medical professionals, to care for and serve the poor. It is one of the, if not the, central theme of his Papacy. He has said that he wants the Church to be the Church for the poor. There are a number of inspirational people we can view as examples to serve the lowly. Saint Damien of Molokai SS.CC., despite not being a medical professional himself, devoted his life to care for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony in Hawaii. We then also have Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who showed great devotion to care for the disadvantaged people from the slums of India. More recently, we have Fr. John Lee Tae-Soek SDB, a Korean medical doctor who dedicated his life to the services of the poor people with leprosy in war-ravaged Southern Sudan. Pope Francis also reminded us to put more emphasis on human life and dignity on top of other material matters. The pro-life movements should focus their actions not only to prevent abortion, but also to save people’s lives and prevent euthanasia. On the other hand, in the recent times, we have witnessed the advances of medical technology which are able to provide the best treatment for various diseases and illnesses. Unfortunately, a lot of these technologies are only accessible to very few people who have significant financial advantage to afford them. If we flash back to a quarter of century ago, when these technologies were not invented, doctors were still able to utilise purely their talents and skills to accurately diagnose and provide the appropriate and acceptable treatment for the same diseases and illnesses. A lot of doctors in the recent times rely heavily on these very expensive technologies, although they might not provide significant advantage over the conventional techniques employed decades ago. Even worse, these doctors are often pressured by the medical institution (e.g. the hospital) to utilise these cutting-edge technologies, albeit unnecessary, to pay off the debt for purchasing the equipment. The point to highlight here is to warn us Catholic doctors not to fall into the traps of commercialisation of our services. Again, it is imperative to constantly remind ourselves that we should put more focus of our duties on the patients and not the institutions we work for. I recall my own personal experience a couple of years ago when a young boy from a Muslim family diagnosed with tetanus and required immediate hospital treatment was unable to do so because of his parents’ financial difficulties. When I learned about his background story, I decided to donate some money for his treatment. The boy was eventually cured, and a week later his mum came to thank me. One sentence which touched my heart was, “You must be a Christian, as you have been very kind.” May this thought empower us Catholic doctors to serve with our sincere heart, providing the healthcare to all patients regardless of their background, especially their financial situations. Remember, with His love, God has given us talents and privileges. Thus, it is only appropriate to share the love to others, especially to those who earnestly need our help; those who are poor and disadvantaged. Caring for the least of His brethren is our way to glorify His name. Let us pray so that God bless us in all our duties to serve Him and others. Ignatius H. Widjaja, President of AFCMA (Asian Federation of Catholic Medical Associations)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Migrants & Refugees in Need of Help

Dear Doctors,respected colleagues and friends, Good day to you all. You may know me or you may not and so I will introduce myself and I am Gladis from the Catholic Doctors Association.I am the Chairman of the Physician Outreach Programme which was launched in 2007 at our association's silver jubilee celebrations. As part of our POP programme we have done a lot of work among refugee and migrants. Right now I am helping the Sahabat Support Centre at Ampang Point under MSRI and we have at this very moment 5 refugee ladies who are pregnant. Now this is where we need some help. I have placed all these ladies under the govt clinics and they pay RM7.50 per visit and they pay on their own. They are all going to deliver at Ampang Hospital but We have the cost at the hospital all worked out and some of these refugees are really worried about how they can come up with the money for the delivery. Normal delivery: RM 800.00 on admission. Final payment may be something like RM900.00+++. Caesarian section:RM1000.00.Final payment may be something like RM1200.00+. So with no mincing I have one refugee who is Gravida 6 and Para 5 who is due on 24/10/2012. She may be due earlier. The rest will be along the way. I need someone or persons to extend help for these refugees. Please send me only the queries and if anyone is interested please contact me to meet the patient at the Sahabat Support Centre next Wed 10.10.2012 at 1pm-2pm. In this way we cut through all the red tape and ensure a direct help one to one. I always believe in small miracles. I may be wrong politically writing this note to you but when we are done with that we can make a difference in people's life. Thanking You You may send your response to and this will be forwarded to Dr Gladis

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Council

Another year has passed. We had just concluded our Annual General Meeting recently and a new council has been voted in. Many thanks to the previous council headed by Dr Frederick Yap.
It had been a great year and the highlight was the Charity Dinner held in the Royal Lake Club which was a great success. We managed to received donations amounting to over MYR80,000. The proceeds from the donations helped towards purchase of a new haemodialysis machine for the Dialysis centre at the Chapel of our Lady of Good Health at Kampung Pandan. Congratulations to Dr Frederick Yap and his organising committee for a job well done.
We would also like to welcome our new Council elected at the AGM:-

President: Dr David Kumar
Vice President: Dr Melvin Raj
Secretary: Dr Juliet Matthew
Treasurer: Dr Beulah Rasan
Committee Members: Dr Freddie Loh
Dr Anthony Samy
Dr Raj
Auditors: Dr Francis Lopez & Dr Gnanapragasam

We congratulate the new council on their new appointments and may God bless them and guide them in their mission.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

15th AFCMA Congress, 18th -21st Oct 2012, Bali, Indonesia

Official Congress Website:

For further information please contact Dr Albert Hendarta at the following Email:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

15th AFCMA Congress, Bali

Dear Colleagues, Presidents of AFCMA member countries,

Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On behalf of the committee, it is my pleasure to announce that the 15th AFCMA Congress will be held on 18 – 21 October 2012, in Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel in Bali, Indonesia. As you perhaps know, Indonesia was appointed as the host for the next AFCMA Congress. Please see attached the first announcement. The congress website is, which will be updated from time to time.

I do hope that all of you, Board and Members of AFCMA will make a note in your calendar for this important date, so that you can schedule your presence at the congress from now on. I would also urge Board and Members in other regions within FIAMC to come and attend the Congress.

The Organizing Committee has chosen Bali as the location of this congress, to attract more participants. Most of you would have heard of Bali as one of the favorite tourist destinations in the world. We assure you that aside from the interesting topics that will be discussed in the congress, there will also be opportunity for you to see the beauty of the Paradise Island of Bali.

Please go through the following pages in this announcement, especially the Congress Programme. There are still some vacancies for congress speakers that you may be able to fill. The topic can be related to the main theme, subtheme or as free papers. Please let me know if you are interested to be one of the speakers.

With this announcement I would like to welcome you to the 15th AFCMA Congress in Bali, and encourage you to register early.

With my warmest regards,

In Christ,

Albert Hendarta, MD, MPH.

Mobile: +62 811 21 9515


Saturday, January 29, 2011


Dear Fellow doctors and friends,

The CDAM is organising a Charity dinner to raise funds for the following 4 beneficiaries:

1. The Physician Outreach Programme
2. The Selangor and Federal Territory Association of Mentally Handicapped
3. The NKF- Pusat Dialysis Good Health, Kampung Pandan(manged by the Society of St Vincent De Paul, Church of Sacred heart, Jln Peel, Kuala Lumpur.
4. Tadika Benchaq for the children of the Orang Asli Community in Kampar

Date: 19th February 2011, 7.30pm
Venue: Royal Lake Club.

Tables are sold at RM2000 each or tickets are available at RM 200 per pax. You may also make personal donations in cash or in kind in the form of lucky draw gifts, hampers etc. We are printing a souvenir programme as well and advertisements are most welcomed. We look forward to your participation and generosity.

CONTACT: Dr Juliet Mathew -
Dr Frederick Yap -
Dr Melvin Raj -
Dr K Y Chong -

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Antidepressants & the Dying

Here is a question on bioethics asked by a ZENIT reader and answered by the fellows of the Culture of Life Foundation.

Q: What are some ethical issues surrounding the taking of anti-depressants? Does their mood-altering effect raise moral problems for people preparing their consciences for death? -- K.N., Augusta, USA.

E. Christian Brugger offers the following response.

A: There are many brands of antidepressants on the market today divided over several drug categories (or classes). An older class known as tricyclics came into widespread use in the 1950s and 60s. Common brand names include Elavil and Pamelor. A newer class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) came into common use in the late 1980s and 1990s and are still widely prescribed (including the famous drugs Prosac and Zoloft). One of the newest classes of the last 10 years, called selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs), includes the popular brands Cymbalta and Effexor. In addition to depression, antidepressant drugs are also prescribed for anxiety, bipolar disease, eating disorders and chronic pain.

All three classes work at the cellular level of the brain blocking the absorption of brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, believed to be involved in mood. The two most common neurotransmitters targeted by these meds are serotonin and norepinephrine.

Some fear that because they are involved in the altering of a person's mood, taking antidepressants is morally analogous to the taking of illicit mood-altering drugs.

I believe this is incorrect. Neurotransmitter medications, at least for depression and anxiety, when effective -- and they often are ineffective even when medically indicated -- ordinarily do not induce a "high," but work rather by restoring mood to a measure of statistical normality in one whose mood has grown flat and darkened, or has been shadowed by anxiety.

Whether or not antidepressants are advisable or promise symptomatic relief for certain individuals is a clinical question; and nobody reading this article should take what I say as clinical advice. My purpose here is to address moral questions surrounding the legitimacy of taking antidepressants for clinically indicated conditions.

The principal purpose of legitimately prescribed medications is therapeutic, that is, ordered toward the restoration of health. People suffering from major depression, dysthymia (low level chronic depression), chronic anxiety, panic attacks or bipolar disease are suffering from real health disorders. Medicine has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that these conditions have a distinct biological dimension. Data indicates that that dimension can be positively benefited by antidepressant medications.

These conditions might also have what clinical psychology calls a behavioral dimension. And I firmly believe that one's voluntary choosing and thinking can contribute to the exacerbation or minimization of the effects of many psychic disorders. It is unquestionably the case that for persons diagnosed with these types of disorders, some behavioral changes will be necessary to restoring long-term therapeutic health. But antidepressants can and should sometimes be part of a comprehensive therapeutic plan.

That said, antidepressants can cause significant side effects that burden one's life, affect one's relationships and limit one's range of activity. Moreover, similar to wearing glasses, one's neurochemistry after taking antidepressants for extended periods can establish new levels of normality on the medication. And so people who cease taking the meds will sometimes feel worse than before going on them. Finally, the newer classes of antidepressants are very expensive and can burden one's budget especially during economic downturns such as our own.

In making a good morally informed decision about beginning or continuing treatment with one of these drugs, consideration of these possible burdens should be factored in.

The question above asks specifically about the use of anti-depressants for persons preparing for death. The only uses of the meds for which I am familiar in end-of-life care are for treating the psychic states of those with terminal conditions. Those conditions, involving as they do bodily deterioration, can precipitate or exacerbate the types of neurochemical imbalances that correspond to states such as depression. In other words, as one's biology deteriorates, the biological basis for depression will often increase. Fear of dying might also play a role in one's mental state.

If such persons exhibit signs of depression, not only is it legitimate to treat them with antidepressant medications, it can be, in my opinion, a requisite part of palliative care (i.e., relieving distress involved in the dying process). Studies consistently illustrate that those patients most vulnerable to euthanasia are suffering from (among other things) treatable depression. For persons consigned to a bed because of incapacitating illness, behavioral options may be limited, so medications may be one of the few options available.

If health care workers appear unconcerned about the mood of the dying, then family members and other caregivers should insist that the patient's mood be taken seriously.

If the administration of antidepressants causes severe side effects that inhibit a person from conscientiously preparing himself or herself for death, then patients might rightly forgo their use as "excessively burdensome."

But if a patient is suffering from psychological distress of some sort as a (biological and/or environmental) result of a terminal condition, or if they have a history of mood disorders, and antidepressant medications can promise some relief, then treating them with these medications is no more morally suspect than treating them for chronic pain.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Update on Billings Ovulation Mathod

Study on the Billings Ovulation Method™ and the Achievement of Pregnancy
1/1/1999 – 31/12/2003
Study conducted by Research Team of Ovulation Method Research and
Reference Centre of Australia Ltd

Summary of Results
Study involved all couples who expressed a desire to achieve a pregnancy and
who attended 17 Australian Billings Ovulation Method™ clinics within the required
time frame.

Total Participants 449
Outcome known 358
Outcome unknown 91

Total pregnancies 278 of 358
Pregnancy Rate 78%
Known Live Birth rate 61%
Possible Live Birth rate*
*14 still pregnant at end of study;
outcome of pregnancy unknown for 62 couples.
Average months trying to achieve for all couples in study
before coming to Billings Ovulation Method™ clinic 15 months
Average months from initial instruction in Billings Ovulation Method™ to conception 4.7 months
Couples who were childless 60%
Prior knowledge of signs of fertility 18%

207 women in the study were classified as sub-fertile – trying to achieve a pregnancy for more than 12 months
(e.g. 20 couples had been unsuccessful with IVF/AI – 7 achieved pregnancy with Billings Ovulation Method™) Outcome known for 172:

Known pregnancy rate for this sub-fertile group 111/172 65%
65 subjects over 38 yrs old - known pregnancy rate 32/48 66%
93% stated they were satisfied and would recommend Billings Ovulation Method™ to others.

95% stated that the Billings Ovulation Method™ gave an understanding of fertility and infertility

From: Marian Corkill

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FIAMC Congress in Lourdes 6 - 9 May 2010

Following is a summary of Dr Freddie Loh's Sharing of the meeting in Lourdes recently:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here is a brief summary of the 23rd FIAMC's Lourdes Congress that was recently successfully concluded. Prior to the Congress the FIAMC Exco. Committee meeting was held and Dr. Peter Au-Yeong and Dr. Edna Monzon graciously agreed to represent Dr. Buichi Ishijima and myself at short notice as we were unable to attend in time.Dr. Peter Au-Yeong read the AFCMA's President report prepared by me.
AFCMA was well represented at the Congress. The following show the country and their no. of representatives:
(1) Indonesia 24 headed by Dr. Ignatius and Dr. Albert Hendarta(the Organising Chairman of the 15th AFCMA Congress in Bali in 2012)
(2)Malaysia 13 headed by Dr. Frederick Yap
(3)Singapore 11 headed by Dr. John Lee and Father Gino
(4)Hong Kong 4 headed by Dr. Peter Au-yeong
(5)Phillipines 2 headed by Dr. Edna Monzon and
(6) India 4 headed by Father Dr. Stephen Fernandes
(7)Vietnam 1 Dr. Pham Chi Lan
(8)Myanmar by Dr. May Thu Lynn (our new AFCMA member)
Also present was Dr. Eamonn from Australia who represented Oceana.
The Theme of the Congress was "Our Faith As Physicians" with 4 sub-themes viz. God the Creator, Jesus Christ Suffering and Healing, the Spirit of Life, and The Church, The Body of Christ.There was also a session on Pro-Life.
The Congress was officially declared open by His Excellency Mgr. Zymunt ZIMOWSKI President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care on 6 May 2010.
Besides the Scientific Program we also had other activities as this was also our pilgrimage to Lourdes. We had masses at the Grotto (where our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette),Rosary Basilica and the underground Basilica St. Pius X.We walked along with the others at the Marian Procession carrying candles at night and also the Eucharistic Procession,Adoration and Blessing of the Sick. We drank the holy water from the "Taps" of Lourdes and carriedthe water home in bottles in the figurine of our Lady to be given to our relatives and friends. Some members were fortunate to be able to have their "Bath".
Here are some excerpts from a few of the speakers during the Congress:
(1)Dr. Richard Watson(USA)who spoke on 'Should Christian Physicians incorporate prayer as part of therapy?'said that prayer must be for the truly Catholic Doctor at the very core of the doctor-patient relationship.Every time we come into contact with a patient the interface reflects, 'Chritus Medicus'-Christ the Divine Physician our Healer and Savior interfaces with 'Christus Patiens'Christ the Patient, our Redeemer who sufferred for us and saved us by His wounds.
(2) Father Dr. Stephen Fernandez(India) spoke on 'Life in the Spirit and the Challenging Mission of Medical Professionals'. He said that evetyoneis called to meet the Lord in a life experience and bear witness to Him through personal testimony and through their works of faith and justice.We can never live a full Christian Life without experiencing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles at Pentecost and transformed their lives.Dr. Stephen then spoke onthe many challengesthat medical professionals are facing in Asia and esp. in India viz. 3.1 million people in India are living with Aids/Hiv, the resurgence of tuberculosis,etc..
(3) Dr. Nicola NAPOLI (Rome) spoke on new therapeutic approacheswith adult stem cells for regenerative medicine.He said that a major task of contemporary medicine is restoration of human tissues and organs lost to diseaseand trauma.Many approaches to tissue engineering have been hindered by factors such as rejectionby the immune system, limited blood supply or morbidity of the donor site. An interesting development has been the discovery of harvesting adipose derived stem cells. This brings new hope as adipose tissue can be easily harvested in adults and can represent an abundant source of therapeutic cells.
Finally at the General Assembly Dr. Simon Castellvi was re-elected as President of FIAMC. Our own Dr. John Lee (Singapore) was also re-elected as Vice- President of FIAMC for another term of 4 years. Bombay has been selected to host the next FIAMC Congress.
In Jesue Christ,
Dr. Freddie Loh
President AFCMA.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cures in LOURDES

The former head of the Lourdes Medical Bureau is affirming that all people can receive a cure at Our Lady's shrine if they pray and hope for it with perseverance.

Doctor Patrick Theillier, who retired from leadership of the bureau last year, stated this in an interview with France Catholique.

The cure, he explained, "might not be as spectacular as to be considered a miracle."

However, the physician added, it can affect "in a profound and lasting way the person who experiences it, in all his being, body, soul and spirit."

Doctor Theillier affirmed that "these cures are truly innumerable."

The bureau is a medical organization run by doctors that operates within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, which, among other things, is responsible for the medical investigation of cures associated with the shrine.

The doctor noted that there are, of course, miraculous cures as well in Lourdes, and 67 have been officially recognized as such.

He affirmed that these miracles are sometimes "necessary," such as at the beginning of the Church. "For faith to increase, it must be supported by miracles," Doctor Theillier said.

Moral sufferings

Yet today, he continued, perhaps more than a century ago, we have a need "to be relieved from moral sufferings and the wounds of life, of a psychological-spiritual order, which goes beyond medicine."

"Here is where Lourdes responds to a very present need, which undoubtedly corresponds more to its original message," the physician stated.

He asserted that these types of "miracles" are "much greater" than the bodily cures, as souls are "regenerated." These miracles, he said, can take place if you desire them, hope with faith, and pray to God.

"Extraordinary physical cures have become rare," Doctor Theillier observed, given that "God acts in the first place through human mediation, through medicine and doctors."

This year, Lourdes will be the site of the international congress for the World Federation for the Catholic Medical Associations. The theme for this May 6-7 event will be "Medicine and Faith."

Doctor Theillier issued an invitation for all doctors worldwide to go to Lourdes on this occasion in order to network with colleagues, hear addresses on the application of faith to medicine, and make a pilgrimage as an "occasion to experience the cure that we all need."

"My hope at this time is that numerous Catholic doctors who suffer much at present because of their faith […] will come to find by Our Lady's side consolation and cure," he said.

He invited all Catholics, "Speak with your doctor!"

The physician concluded, "As those who have come to previous congresses have shown, the doctors who attend will be able to experience God's mercy in this place of graces."