Our city is currently unable to meet its people’s growing demand for healthcare, and as a result, prices for medical services are rising and underprivileged citizens are struggling.
In light of this, students at Chinese International School (CIS) partnered with medical professionals at Stanley Wellness Centre and Dr Lauren Bramley and Partners, to launch Free Clinic in 2016, a service that provides free, high-quality medical treatment to communities that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it.
Led by Mala Uttam, the Service and Action Coordinator at CIS, the group of student volunteers holds weekly meetings to plan fundraisers, and discuss sustainable growth, and how to build a relationship with their clients to encourage them to visit more and spread the word.
Each member is driven by a desire to help the local community. The current student leader Francisca Lam, 17, told Young Post about her personal motivation, saying she joined the Free Clinic because she was interested in solving the social issues that divide Hong Kong.
“Access to medical care is one of the greatest problems,” she says, adding that as a person of privilege – someone with advantages over others in society – she feels that even the smallest contributions can help.
Francisca hopes that through Free Clinic’s work, people will become more aware of the issue. “Medical care is often taken for granted by people who have access to it,” she says.
“The public healthcare system in Hong Kong is largely failing due to a lack of personnel, partly due to the large influx of new graduates who enter private practice once they’re given the opportunity to,” she explains.
“To those who have no access to private healthcare, public healthcare is often inaccessible because of the lack of [appointments] and the length of time it takes to be able to secure an appointment.”
Since the clinic’s launch, it is clear how much good it has done for the community. It has served 557 people with a household median income of HK$8,000 or less so far, providing free services ranging from physiotherapy and dentistry. In addition, the Free Clinic funds all necessary procedures, including covering cost for CT scans, ultrasounds, and blood tests.
A patient, who chose to remain anonymous, talked to Young Post about their personal experience. The patient says, “I found out about the Free Clinic through St Barnabas’ Church. I came because my knees and back were hurting and I was told I would receive free healthcare.”
They believe the Free Clinic has improved their own quality of life, adding “the doctors have been really kind and caring; all the exercises they have taught me are really helpful, especially when I am in pain.”
The Free Clinic continues to expand and maintains a high standard by remembering its core values and upholding the school’s passion for and dedication to serving the community.