Dr Keefe has been volunteering at HealthServe for a year as a General Practitioner. He wants to contribute in areas that are underserved, and he believes in giving back to the migrant worker community, who has played a huge role in building the infrastructure in Singapore. Unlike the usual cough and colds that most white-collar workers have, many of the migrant workers he sees are beset with musculoskeletal and skin problems because of the manual labour they undertake, the lack of recovery time and inadequate rest. Some of them also have chronic conditions like diabetes, which they have to manage under challenging physical loads and without caregivers to share the burden.
Due to limited consultation time, Dr Keefe expressed regrets that he “may have not stories of specific patients, but seeing so many of my migrant brothers as patients and hearing their ailments allows me to see the challenges they go through collectively.
Most of the time, our migrant brothers who present to our clinic come with problems which are longstanding. Some problems can stretch for months and even years, for example, chronic headaches or back pain which are exacerbated by the physical work they undertake. Because of the lack of funds and also their employment contracts and obligations, it is difficult for them to access specialist care. Even when they do, there is a distinct possibility that their problems will never go away unless their working conditions change, which in reality is difficult to effect.