Dr. Ruby Ching Hok-ying knows how hard life can be for poor people: her family lived in poverty when she was a child.
That is why when she became an eye doctor, having graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, she committed herself to helping the needy and the underprivileged.
Aside from coming from a poor family herself, Dr. Ching said her attitude toward her profession was also heavily influenced by her teacher, Dr. Donald Woo Chai-fong, who inculcated in his students that the essence of medicine is service: curing the patient comes before making money.
When she started practicing as an ophthalmologist, she realized that many people suffer from eye diseases but are too poor to pay for the treatment and medication.
This realization has prodded her and several other like-minded doctors to establish the Eye Care Charitable Foundation a few years ago to offer free services to the needy.
Collaborating with Yan Chai Hospital, Dr. Ching and fellow members of the foundation regularly hold a makeshift clinic under a flyover in Sham Shui Po where they treat eye diseases afflicting the poor and mentally challenged.
They provide free consultation, medication and treatment, even though many of the medicines and treatments are in fact very expensive.
While they try to help as many people as they can, Dr. Ching said their efforts are still limited.
It is sad that some poor people end up broke or even blind because the medication they need costs as much as HK$9,000 per shot, and the money must come out of their own pockets without any government subsidy, she said.
In Hong Kong, many poor people just find their eye conditions get worse because there is nothing they can do about it, she added.
Dr. Ching said some people from poor families suffer from lifetime amblyopia, a vision development disorder in which an eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity, because they failed to receive proper treatment when they were children.
Nevertheless, she has made up her mind to do as much as she can to help needy patients, though such a goal requires a lot of her time and keeps her from getting the most financial return from her profession.
The doctor is not the least bothered. Life, after all, becomes more meaningful when we dedicate it for the sake of others.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 19
Translation by Taka Liu
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