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Pioneer of 24-hour clinics in Malaysia dies at 88

PETALING JAYA — The pioneer of the 24-hour medical clinic in Malaysia, Dr K.M. Reddy, has died at the age of 88.

Dr Reddy, who set up 25 clinics nationwide more than 50 years ago, died in London on April 19.

Dr Romel D’Silva, who ran one of his clinics and worked with him for about 40 years, described him as “a man for all seasons, who would help people regardless of their background”.

“The clinics were his innovation, his brainchild. There were none in Malaysia at the time and so he contributed a lot in this regard,” he said.

Dr Reddy was the eldest son of a landowning family in Madras, India. After graduating from Madras Medical College, he travelled to Malaysia in 1952 to further his career in medicine, dedicating his first 10 years to government service.

He started his career at the Penang General Hospital, which was then considered the medical headquarters of Malaysia.

“He started out as a general practitioner at the Penang General Hospital looking after the TB clinic there, and later a leprosy clinic in Pulau Jerejak,” Dr D’Silva said.

“In 1957, he went on to become director and head of the Sungai Buloh leprosy settlement, the second largest leprosy settlement in the world.”

There, Dr Reddy was dedicated to eliminating public prejudice against leprosy and assisting patients in their return to society.





Dr Reddy was known to treat those in greatest need without charge. — file pic

“He was the first to start discharging leprosy patients. However, the government at the time thought it unsafe, even though by then they were not infectious or posed any threat to society,” Dr D’Silva said.

He left in 1965 to open his own private practice in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, which he ran daily until 9pm.

“His practice soon got a lot busier and it was then he thought it best that he run it for 24 hours,” Dr D’Silva said.

The clinic was equipped with advanced facilities and was staffed by four doctors.

“The original clinic was the biggest and busiest. After a while, he encouraged the doctors there to set up more branches elsewhere,” he said.

“The first branch was in Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya, and the second in Setapak. By the time I first met him, he had set up 21 more clinics.”

Dr Reddy was a founding member of the Malaysian Medical Association. His pioneering work was at the forefront of rehabilitation projects, which the World Health Organisation and International Leprosy Association helped to develop further.

He was known to treat those in greatest need without charge. Such was his generosity that when in Bagan Datoh, Perak, he was known to receive gifts of coconuts in lieu of payment.

He moved to England in the 1970s where his five children and six grandchildren were educated and settled. Among his four daughters and a son, two of them — one daughter and the son — also became doctors.

Dr Reddy’s eldest daughter Jothi, who is a lawyer, said her father’s natural kindness and generosity carried over among his own children.

“He would often offer free services to those who couldn’t afford them,” she said.

“He was also a mentor to many and helped guide and inspire others to achieve their very best.” The Malay Mail Online 11/05/2014

Tags: medical, tokoh
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