Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood is no stranger to humanitarian work. She is the founder of Mercy Malaysia and under-secretary-general of partnerships of International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies.
She had a near-death experience in 2003 when a convoy carrying medical supplies to children’s hospitals in Iraq were trapped in a crossfire. Two people were killed and two other doctors were severely injured in the attack – while Dr Jemilah was shot in her hip.
The founder of MERCY Malaysia stitched herself up and continued saving lives
As the convoy got caught in crossfire, a bullet travelled through Dr Jemilah’s friend, Dr Baba before passing through the Reader’s Digest book and finally hitting her hip. Her friend was more injured and he took the bullet for her. She quickly stiched herself up, left the bullet in the hip and helped Dr Baba.
She didn’t stop there and continued helping a woman who was going into labour
With all the pain that she had to endure, she didn’t take a pause and trying to digest the incident. She helped a woman who was going into labour. Dr Jemilah performed an emergency C-section and delivered a healthy baby – all within hours after being shot in the hip!
Dr Jemilah’s career in the medical sector began as an obstetrician and gynaecologist
Currently, Dr Jemilah is the under secretary general for partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the world’s largest humanitarian group with over 190 national societies and 17 million volunteers.
The humanitarioan group strives to help and save people who stuck in wars, natural disasters, and health emergencies without any discrimination. She helps anyone regardless of nationality, race, religious beliefs, class, or political opinions.
Tan Sri Dr Jemilah started MERCY Malaysia in 1999
Dr Jemilah started MERCY Malaysia started MERCY Malaysia with the main objective of providing medical relief for vulnerable communities in both crisis and non-crisis situations. MERCY Malaysia has sent five missions to Kosovo during the war in 1999 with so little funds when they first started, to the point that all MERCY Malaysia’s volunteers had to pay for their own airfares.
Subsequently, MERCY Malaysia also sent relief teams to Turkey to help victims of the 1999 Izmit earthquake. They were also the first medical team to arrive in Aceh, Indonesia, during the December 2004 tsunami.
To date, MERCY Malaysia has sent its team and aid to many war countries and disaster areas in the world including, Somalia, Turkey, Gaza, Sierra Leone, and Musan County in North Korea.
She has earned numerous awards
She has been presented with numerous awards from both Malaysia and other countries including, four local royal awards – DPMP Perak, DIMP Pahang, PJN from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and PSM.
She became the first recipient of the Isa Award for Service to Humanity in 2013. Dr Jemilah has also served as the major driving force in MERCY Malaysia being recognised as the first Asian NGO and third NGO globally to be certified for humanitarian accountability by Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International in 2007.
In November 2019, she has won the ASEAN Prize in recognition of her exceptional humanitarian and disaster relief work around the world
According to the news, Dr Jemilah is the first Malaysian recipient of the ASEAN Prize. It is a prestigious regional award which aims to acknowledge the inspiring and outstanding achievements of an individual or organisation who have significantly contributed to ASEAN community-building efforts.
The award was presented at the opening ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok by Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and ASEAN Secretary-General Datuk Lim Jock Hoi witnessed by all 10 ASEAN leaders, including Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.