Dr Jumailath Beygum, Australia Awards alumna and a senior gynaecologist at Medica Hospital in the Maldives, has found a new passion in her volunteer work to promote healthy lifestyles and raise awareness about cancer by providing specialist care through health outreach camps in the atolls.
Jumaila completed her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Tasmania in Australia, following which she completed an MD (Doctor of Medicine) in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. Though the bulk of her practice is her work as the Senior Gynecologist in Medica Hospital, as an obstetrician and a gynecologist by profession, she also provides antenatal consultations. As she continues to provide clinical care for her patients, Jumaila aspires to engage in teaching activities to empower the young doctors to further their clinical work.
Jumaila’s career began with an Australia Awards Scholarship. She had just completed her London GCE Advanced Level studies in 1986 when she heard about the Australia Awards (then known as the AUSAID/AIDAB scholarships). Coming from a low-income family of many children, Jumaila knew her dream of doing medicine would be hard to realise, unless she received a scholarship. As at that time, only a few Australia Awards scholarships were offered to the Maldives, she was grateful to have received an Australia Awards Scholarship to undertake her Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) course.
‘Australia Awards set the foundation for my medical career’, says Jumaila, who considers herself exceptionally fortunate to have had this opportunity to study medicine at an Australian university.
Once in Australia, Jumaila claimed that she enjoyed the experience immensely. She notes the well-coordinated support she received through Australia Awards. For her, the host family program which was offered at that time was the best. She found the people warm, friendly, outgoing, and respectful towards her culture, and she appreciated the fact that they went out of their way to make her feel at home. However, she admits that it took her some time to get used to their accent and slang, and also the cold climate!
For Jumaila, studying at an Australian university with a diverse student body, equipped her with many skills and knowledge that she could not have acquired through books.
‘I gained a very good grounding of medicine and surgery knowledge through the scholarship. Apart from the knowledge I gained from the books, I learned a lot about the importance of communication with the patients and traits such as compassion and humanity, which are important for my profession’.
Upon her return to the Maldives, Jumaila began working at Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’, which is a tertiary referral public hospital. Since then, she has continued to hold many influential positions within the hospital as well as serving on several committees and boards. She headed the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of IGMH, and served as the President of Pharmaceutical Board of the Maldives, which functioned under the Maldives Food and Drug Authority. She was also a member of the Reproductive Health steering committee of the Ministry of Health.
Apart from her current work as a leading gyneacologist, Jumaila continues providing technical support to the government when required, and is an active member of Cancer Society of Maldives and Bike Maldives. Through her volunteer work with the Cancer Society, she helps raise awareness and conducts screening programs, among communities in the outer Atolls. She has also dedicated her time voluntarily for outreach health camps providing specialist care in the Atolls.
Jumaila acknowledges that she has reached where she is today due to Australia Awards and that her Australian experience has enabled her to contribute towards the development of the nation.
Her advice to Australia Awards scholars is to make the most of the opportunity to pursue their dreams with determination. She urges them to have an open mind and engage with the community and enjoy all Australia has to offer. At the same time, she stresses on the importance of being focused on goals, being disciplined, hard-working and staying true to values.
‘Remember your country needs your service, so do come back and contribute to the progress of this nation’, she adds.