Community outreach involves the activity of providing services to a group of people identified that might not otherwise have access to the services in order to bridge the gap by connecting individuals to the assistance and resources they need as well as contributing to improved social, health, economic and other kinds of outcomes, depending on the agenda and goals of the programme. Operasi Khidmat Masyarakat (OPKIM) is an outreach programme that involved 66 community members comprising UKM pharmacy students, accompanied by lecturers and registered pharmacists, that collaborated together to perform community work and provide fundamental pharmacy services in rural areas aimed at improving the social and health conditions of the targeted communities. OPKIM was successfully conducted physically from 17th May to 20th May 2023 at FELDA Lembah Klau, Pahang after being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since the year 2020. Many activities were conducted throughout the four days of this outreach programme in the village which benefited all parties involved, especially the residents and students that took part in organising this programme.
On the first day of the programme, an opening ceremony was held at the multipurpose hall of FELDA Lembah Klau in the afternoon after the arrival of committee members to the village. The opening ceremony was attended by FELDA officials, leaders of the village, local residents, lecturers and registered pharmacists together with the committees in charge of their respective roles to ensure the smooth flow of the event. Upon conveying his hopes and dreams for the programme through a speech, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hanif Zulfakar as the Head of Industry Network and Community of the Faculty of Pharmacy UKM has officiated the programme which signifies the start of the various enrapturing activities for 4 days in Lembah Klau. During the ceremony, souvenirs were also presented to the representatives of foster families that will be accommodating the committee members throughout their stay as a token of appreciation. Afterwards, the committee members were allowed to spend the rest of day 1 with their foster family to strengthen bonds and build connections with them.
The second day of OPKIM commenced with Home Medicines Review (HMR), which was a major activity of this outreach programme involving visits to assigned homes to examine the medications of residents in efforts to ensure the safe and quality use of medicines, maximising their potential for treatment and prevention of diseases. Students were divided into several groups to visit different homes around the village accompanied by lecturers and registered pharmacists to lead the session, supervising and guiding the students on the proper ways of conducting HMR in a realistic community setting along the way. It was definitely a beneficial activity for pharmacy students to enhance communication skills and reinforce knowledge on medicines gained from lectures! In the afternoon, there were exhibition booths educating on various topics of the use and disposal of medicines as well as health screening counters set up along the multipurpose hall of FELDA Lembah Klau in collaboration with the local health authorities of Raub to increase the health literacy and assess the health status of residents, providing advice and pharmaceutical care as necessary. Simultaneously, sports activities (sukaneka) were conducted at the public field of the village whereby everyone on site enjoyed playing the engaging games such as dodgeball and coconut bowling prepared by the team. Shortly after dinner, a Cultural Night (Malam Kebudayaan) was held at the hall that acted as a bonding session between the committees and residents, showcasing individual talents as seen in the singing and dancing performances prepared by students, along with a singing/karaoke competition involving local residents that were interested to join. A prize giving ceremony for the top singers of the night was conducted afterwards. What a hectic but productive day!
On day-3 of OPKIM, the organising team was once again divided into two main groups that will be conducting different activities at different locations around the village. One team was assigned to carry out educational activities in the school of the village that include free health screening, interactive session with students and a talk on the safe and effective use of medicines. Exhibition booths educating on the process of dispensing medicines, knowing your medicines and medication costs and wastages were also set up concomitantly that will certainly benefit the students and staff of the school as well as enhance their awareness on pharmacy and health. Meanwhile, another team was assigned to conduct Home Medicines Review (HMR) to cover houses that were not visited on the previous day and continue the efforts of monitoring the usage of medicines among the local community. In the afternoon, the organising committees were served with appetising delicacies specially prepared by the residents for Jamuan Hari Raya that was held at the mosque of FELDA Lembah Klau. Everyone in the village came together to enjoy the meal and dressed up in their glamorous traditional Malay costumes to commemorate the event. Lastly, a talk on Sweet Diet and the Use of Medicines and Insulin Pen (Pemakanan Manis dan Penggunaan Ubatan serta Pen Insulin) was delivered by Mr. Ahmad Fawwaz, a registered pharmacist of the Faculty of Pharmacy UKM to the residents in the mosque after Maghrib prayers.
Following days of continuous social and health activities conducted in the village, OPKIM officially wrapped up on the fourth day in which a closing ceremony was conducted in the multipurpose hall. A montage video was also played during the ceremony which unveiled all the highlights and wonderful memories that took place throughout the entire programme. The committee members left the village by bus with heavy hearts after having lunch. It was undoubtedly a successful programme that will not only potentially improve the health and quality of life of residents but also served as an avenue for students to sharpen their skills and gain invaluable opportunities for professional growth in a synergistic process.
Written by: Chew Siong Yit