PenangTrails.com.my recognizes the long term contribution of Dato’ Seri Dr. Devaraj in the field of health and medical care and are honoured to present a short essay on him and to welcome Dr. Devaraj to our PenangTrailblazers Hall of Fame.
We recently had a chat with Dr. Devaraj in Penang and Dr. Devaraj shared the following:
“Good medical health care professionals have to be competent and compassionate. Often lost along the way is coordination of such care. Whose responsibility is this? I think it is primarily the duty of the health professional but backed by a supportive environment for good care, which means the health care system – public or private. A further necessity is cooperation of the ill person and family – not to go doctor or hospital hopping besides recognizing and acting on this belief that health and health care is their responsibility as well. To complete this best possible scenario would be the long overdue sustainable health care financing mechanism for the country”
“When money comes into the picture, morality is the first casualty”
Twenty-five years ado Dr. Devaraj helped establish a community Hospice service in Penang. This was to provide free medical care in the homes of people with advanced diseases to reduce suffering thereby improving their quality of remaining life. The family members were empowered to cope and care for the loved one at home. This was an innovation for health care in Malaysia.
His contribution to society is so significant that Dr. Devaraj was listed in the World Medical Association’s 100 Caring Physicians of the World. A panel of judges selected physicians who have demonstrated humanity and the core values of medicine in performing their duties based on nominations submitted by national medical associations.
Recognition was given to 65 physicians selected from 58 countries. Dr. Devaraj is the first and only Malaysian to be given such an award.
Presently, Dr. Devaraj is CEO / Medical Director of the Penang Hospice Society, an NGO that provides care and support for persons not responding to curative treatment for ills related to cancer, neurological, cardiac and renal diseases.
An aside from PenangTrails.com.my: Support for the Penang Hospice Society (tel 04 228 4140) in the form of funding and volunteering (health awareness campaigns, fund-raising) is welcome and encouraged.
Dr. Devaraj has dedicated years of service to caring for people in their most challenging days. For twelve years, he was Chairman of the Malaysian Hospice Council (from 1998 to 2002, 2004 to 2008, and from 2010 to 2014) and currently he is the Advisor to the Malaysian Hospice Council. As for Hospice Penang, he has been the Vice Chairman since 1992.
Other than his volume of hospice work, Dr. Devaraj is also very active in cancer-related care. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Penang Branch, and is also a Board Member of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia.
Born in 1924, Dr. Devaraj attended the Anglo Chinese School in Ipoh and continued his tertiary education at the University of Malaya in Singapore. He obtained his MBBS degree in 1952. He earned his MRCPE from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1959 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCPE) of Edinburgh in 1971. In 1995, he obtained his Diploma in Palliative Medicine from Cardiff University.
Dr. Devaraj started his career as a medical officer with the Ministry of Health Singapore upon obtaining his MBBS in 1952. He worked with the Ministry in Singapore until 1954 when he joined the Ministry of Health Malaya and worked in Mersing, Kluang and Johor Bahru. From 1959 onward, Dr. Devaraj served as a Consultant Physician at hospitals in various towns in Malaya (Kuantan, Alor Setar and Penang) and retired from the public sector in 1979 and thereafter joined the Penang Adventist Hospital as an Honorary Consultant Physician (leaving the position in 1991).
Dr. Devaraj is also active in academia. He held the position of Chancellor of the International Medical University from 2011 to 2013.
In civil society, he was a founder member of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and was elected President in 1983. He was Chairman of the Ethics Committee of MMA from 1985 to 2000. Dr. Devaraj was an elected member of the Malaysia Medical Council between 1992 and 1998; and a member of the MMA Foundation from 1982 to 2000. He was also made an Honorary Member of the Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society in 2004. Through these organizations, Dr. Devaraj rendered his outreach services to the society.
Dr. Devaraj received several awards for his service to the nation. He was conferred the Pingat Kelakuan Terpuji (PKT), Darjah Johan Negeri (DJN), and the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) which carries the title Dato’ in 1979 and Darjah Gemilang Pangkuan Negeri (DGPN) which carries the title Dato’ Seri in 2006, awarded by the State Government of Penang.
He was also awarded the title Bintang Perkhidmatan Yang Berbakti (BCK) by the State Government of Kedah and Kesatria Mangku Negara (KMN) by the Federal Government.
Other awards conferred upon Dr. Devaraj are:
- The Gold Medal by the Alumni of King Edward VII College of Medicine and the University of Singapore and Malaya.
- Outstanding Doctor Award by the Penang Medical Practitioner’s Society in 2004. He was the first recipient of this award.
- Physician of the World 2005 Award by the World Medical Association.
- Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by WOU Chancellor Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah at the 6th Convocation Ceremony on November 28, 2015.
- Honorary Doctor of Medicine by the International Medical University at its 25th Convocation on 29 th April 2017.
We are indeed honoured to have met with Dato’ Seri Dr. Devaraj and thank him for his long term passionate service to people in their times of greatest need.
By Chan Hock Aun