EDINBURGH: Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was awarded the 2021 Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh's (RCSEd) International Medal in recognition of his contributions to surgery in Malaysia.
He received the medal from RCSEd president Professor Michael Griffin at a dinner at the college in Edinburgh to welcome their honorary fellow, Yang Di Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, who is also the royal chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Accompanying him was Tunku Ampuan Besar Tuanku Aishah Rohani Almarhum Tengku Besar Mahmud.
Griffin said it was a well deserved medal for Dr Noor Hisham's outstanding services in the field of surgical care.
"This award represents the culmination of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice from Dr Noor Hisham, who has made such a difference to the lives of patients in Malaysia."
Dr Noor Hisham, who received the prestigious Fellowship Ad Hominem of the RCSEd in 2018, said he was honoured to receive the recognition.
He hoped Malaysia would be a model for other countries in training experts to help surgeries in rural areas.
"Our country is championing the cause of global surgery, and we have adopted and embraced creative ideas and innovation to increase the quality of surgery in our country as well as to provide surgery in rural areas.
"This collaboration has improved and increased the capacity of our country. Our country has become a role model for lower middle-income countries," said Dr Noor Hisham after receiving the award.
He added: "Our health minister has been appointed as vice president of the World Health Assembly and the first vice chair of its executive board and we can actually push this agenda of global surgery to increase the quality of care in terms of affordability, access and equity of global surgery to lower middle-income countries.
"If you look into the data, 30 per cent the global disease burden is surgical-based. Therefore, it is important for the World Health Organisation to focus on global surgery to improve the quality of care particularly in lower middle-income countries."
Earlier, during a lecture by recipients of the Tuanku Muhriz Travelling Fellowships in Rural Areas, Griffin spoke of the working partnership with Malaysia that goes back decades.
"An Association of Edinburgh Surgeons was formed in 1972 and of the 80 surgeons working in various disciplines in Malaysia at that point, no less than 67 were fellows of the college. This early and strong connection continues to this day. As our membership has grown, so too has our desire to become more than an educational and examination force."
RCSEd opened its first International office in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, allowing it to invest and support members and fellows in southeast Asia.
A Travelling Fellowship Lecture was also delivered by college fellow Prof Dr Angus Watson, who was the first recipient of the Tuanku Muhriz Travelling Fellowship in Rural Surgery.
Watson, who is consultant general and colorectal surgeon at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness said he had worked in Malaysia three years ago.
"The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh represents 30,000 members in 100 countries, so having collaborations with global partners is important, and enables us to spread the word about what we do as a college."
Professor Dr Andrew Kent, deputy chairman of the Faculty of Remote, Rural and Humanitarian Healthcare, RCSEd, was also awarded the Tuanku Muhriz Travelling Fellowship in Rural Surgery. He is the second medical specialist to be awarded the fellowship.
The Tuanku Muhriz Traveling Fellowship in Rural Surgery is a strategic collaboration programme between RCSEd and UKM.