Dr. Mass R. Usuf on the Free Homoeopathic Medical Camps in the East Coast
by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando from London

Dr. Mass R. Usuf of Sri Lanka is the Senior Vice President of the National Association of Homoeopaths & Affiliates (NAHA) and is the Chief Acupuncturist - Holistic Diagnosis & Healing Centre - Pita Kotte, Sri Lanka. He is a Doctor of Philosophy (Thesis - Palm Diagnosis) and holds a Doctorate in Acupuncture. Besides, he is qualified in Acupressure, Naturopathy and Magnet Therapy. He also practices Palm Diagnosis. Dr. Usuf is a Member of the Foundation for Homoeopathy (Medicina Alternativa) and is the first Sri Lankan to be granted a membership in the prestigious International Association of Colour (UK). Moreover, Dr. Usuf was conferred a Honorary Doctorate by the International University of Martial Arts for social service to society in the field of medicine. He is a practicing naturopath embracing many therapeutic systems and offering a combined therapeutic approach to any ailment. He can be contacted at: costrans@zeylan.net. Dr. Tilak.S.Fernando PhD interviewed him on his latest humanitarian project - Free Homoeopathty Medical Camps. "It was about setting up people who had lost everything that once brought them their daily bread. We gave sewing machines to tailors, tools for masons, carpenters, motor mechanics, plumbers, At the tail end of the project the realisation struck me that the displaced people also needed medical attention by way of: providing for routine everyday acute ailments, treating injuries - Tsunamic and post-Tsunamic (chronic flesh wounds + fractures/sprains/strains), prevention of epidemic breakouts by administering "homoeopathic vaccination"…

Q. The Daily News of 4th July 2005 carried a picture of one of the many free homoeopathic medical camps being conducted for those affected by the Tsunami in the east coast districts by the National Association of Homeopaths and Affiliates (NAHA) of which you are the Senior Vice President - and it said it was a first in the medical history of Sri Lanka - could you elaborate please?

A. To my knowledge, it is in terms of length of time that it is a first in the medical history of Sri Lanka. As of today the free camps have been operating for 11 long months and it is intended to carry on till December 2006 and probably till December 2007, if the operation is funded appropriately. Moreover, it is not only those affected by the Tsunami but even others not affected by the Tunami are seeking treatment. I am still to hear of free medical camps being conducted to such lengths of time in Sri Lanka!!

Q. How did it all come about?

A. Well, some days after the Tsunami struck my wife got a call from her Irish friend Brian O'Shaugnessy. Many years back Brian had worked in Sri Lanka for about 4 years along with my wife on an European Commission project. He is forever a lover of Sri Lanka! When he saw the disaster on television he cancelled his Cambodian vacation and decided to come over to Sri Lanka with whatever funds he could amass from among his friends and relatives to assist those affected by the tsunami. He had such love for Sri Lanka and her people!

Q. And…then…..?

A. He was successful in amassing close upon Rs 2.6 million. We visited the east coast which was the worst hit area. The devastation that we beheld was mind numbing. I knew four homoeopathic practitioners living and practicing in Kalmunai. With their assistance we embarked on a "Giving Back Lost Livelihoods" project.

Q. What was it about?

A. It was about setting up people who had lost everything that once brought them their daily bread. We gave sewing machines to tailors, tools for masons, carpenters, motor mechanics, plumbers, welders/tinkers and electricians, handlooms for weavers, bicycles, weighing scales, fish boxes and knives for fish vendors, grinding machines for grinders, grocery and fancy goods for those whose shops were destroyed, baking and paddy milling equipment, put up poultry farms, stocks of textiles, goldsmith items, set up canteens, ox and chick pea carts etc

Q. Then how did the idea of free homoeopathic medical camps come about?

A. At the tail end of the project the realisation struck me that the displaced people also needed medical attention by way of: providing for routine everyday acute ailments, treating injuries (chronic flesh wounds, fractures, sprains etc), prevention of epidemic breakouts by administering "homoeopathic vaccination", countering epidemic breakouts, countering compromised state of the immune system by homoeopathic immuno-potentiation, attending to serious trauma related disorders complemented with counseling, looking at minor negative psychological manifestations, providing special paediatric, geriatric and maternity care and treating chronic diseases

Q. How then did the camps become a reality? A. Just before Brian left Sri Lanka he received a final tranche of money which he dedicated to the free medical camps. He too realised the need for medical camps and so the camps became a reality thanks to him and the people of Ireland in full measure!!

Q. I thought homoeopathy practitioners are a rare breed - how did you manage to find many such practitioners in the east coast?

A. They are indeed a rare breed and they are sparsely spread out all over the country. Fortunately for me, I know four friends of mine who are homoeopathic practitioners (who are currently running four camps in the east coast) domiciled there. And, all four are members of NAHA.

Q. How are the camps being funded now - is still by your friend Brian?

A. Brian's last tranche helped us start the free camps. The funds were sufficient to finance operational costs for some months. The camps became very popular and we wanted to carry on for as many months as possible.

When Brian's funds petered out we ran into financial problems. However, with personal funds and with the help of a few friends we managed to carry on for a couple more months. When we saw the patient turn-out and the desperation in their faces we did not have the heart to stop it. Also we saw how patients in their hundreds benefited by the treatment.

It was then that I met Dr. Rita Pasquale, a homoeopathic practitioner associated with HSF Suisse (Homoeopathy Without Borders - Switzerland). She visited Sri Lanka a couple of times in relation to homoeopathic medi-care for those affected by the tsunami. She visited the camps in the east coast and convinced her associates in Switzerland of the need for assistance if the good work done in the camps were to continue.

HSF Suisse has pledged to provide financial assistance for the next one year - possibly next two years if warranted. With HSF - Suisse assistance we are now operating four free camps in three administrative districts, viz: Batticaloa, Kalmunai and Ninthavur. We are so grateful to Rita and HSF - Suisse for the faith placed in us.

Q. Can you name the camps and the homoeopathic practitioners involved in this great work of charity?

A. We have a camp in Ninthavur (Ninthavur district), one in Kathankudy (Batticaloa district) and two in the Kalmunai district at Kalmunaikudy and Maruthamunai. Four dedicated doctors run the camps viz: Dr. M.L.M. Abdul Cader, Dr. P.M. Selladurai, Dr. Omar Moulana and Dr. A. Abdul Razack. Dr. A. Abdul Razack is the co-ordinator for the east coast camps and he and his fellow doctors have performed creditably.

Q. You said part from those affected by the Tsunami even others who were not affected by the tsunami are now seeking treatment. What have you got to say to this?

A. Initially the patients very predominantly comprised those affected by the Tsunami as our camps were located in the devastated areas where the displaced lived in partially destroyed houses or in makeshift shelters. Then we noticed that even others not affected by the Tsunami were flocking to our camps for treatment. Surely, we cannot run a free medical camp meant only for the Tunami affected patients? It is a medical mission and any sick person is welcome!

On inquiry we discovered that patients cured by homoeopathy had been talking to others about the camps and the new 'mode of therapy' called homoeopathy being administered. Gradually, visits by patients not affected by the Tsunami increased and now we have a good proportion of them.

Q. Homoeopathy is a virtually unknown quantity in Sri Lanka - your work must surely be giving an impetus to homoeopathy in Sri Lanka!

A. Thanks to Rita and HSF - Suisse and the dedicated team of doctors homoeopathy is indeed being given a fillip at least in the east coast of Sri Lanka…………that's good for a start!! That's a start and it is good for homoeopathy in Sri Lanka.

Q. I hear homoeopathy is a gentle art of cure with no side effects and is quite popular in many countries and even the British Royalty has been keen adherents of homeopathy for over a century!

A. Yes, it is a gentle art of cure but with a scientific base, which unfortunately the science of today cannot quite comprehend as contemporary science lacks the tools to unravel the mysteries behind dynamic homoeopathic cure.

Q. What have you got to say about these camps and homoeopathy in conclusion?

A. These camps conducted by a dedicated team of homoeopathic practitioners is a boon to those sick. It has become popular. Many 'fantastic' cures have taken place. The people expect us to carry on. It is said that all good things must come to an end. Till such time when the conspiracy of time and of circumstances work against the operation of these camps, we have pledged to do our utmost.

Moreover, these camps have provided us with an excellent opportunity to treat patients en masse homoeopathically, which naturally resulted in homoeopathy becoming popular in these east coast towns. We intend to keep going since the greater length of time we operate the greater the popularity of homoeopathy and it would be our dream if this service could be provided throughout the country.