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Thousands natives treated for Yaws by Dr Campbell
Published on: Tuesday, February 16, 1932

JESSELTON, Tuesday 16.2.1932 - (Continued from last week) - In this first campaign, 1254 cases were treated, no less than 142 villages being represented among these patients. Each patient was injected in the open before some two hundred of his comrades and was carefully told before any treatment was given what was going to be done and what would result. 

When the doctor’s address had been interpreted to them much doubt was shown, indeed a certain amount of quiet scoffing took place. 

When the promised reaction appeared, when primary lesions of months duration disappeared completely in three to five days and from ten to fourteen days in tertiary cases which had existed for years, applicants for treatment began to pour in as the news travelled far and wide and there was an immense gain in native confidence. 

Those who had been crippled for long years were carried in by their relatives and friends and distance seemed no obstacle. 

Since treatment of Yaws was commenced 14,000 cases have been dealt with. 

So great is the faith of the native in this treatment that they present themselves at the dispensaries demanding injections for any and every complaint. 

Over 10,000 ampoules of Neosalvarsan have been used for Yaws alone and so profound is the influence now obtained that the doctor considers the disease should be completely stamped out in the near future. 

The same result cannot be expected with Malaria in this short time. 

Malaria is a much more deadly disease than Yaws, but the latter, with its marked and disgusting external lesions, is of course more noticeable to the laity. 

It causes disfigurement, disability and sterility but seldom death. Malaria on the other hand exhibits to the laity few evidences of its presence.

Even when it does not actually cause death itself, it causes such marked disability that the sufferer falls an easy victim to other diseases. 

It causes very marked morbidity – impoverishes through lack of desire and ability to work and exerts a tremendous influence on the birth rate. 

Against this Beady menace to the prosperity of the Interior Dr. Campbell commenced operations in 1925. 

It was all pioneering work, and uphill work at that. Keningau and Tambunan Stations were taken as the first objectives. 

Low lying are wet filled, if undrainable, others were levelled and all were oiled. Of war, it was on a small scale considering the vast area of the Interior, but a start was made. 

In the last, examination of 779 adults and 573 children, the percentage of latent malaria proved to be 66pc and 77pc respectively! 

The result of this preliminary survey was se gloomy that the vast amount of excellent medical work Government had already done amongst the natives in the Interior might have been overlooked. 

Without energetic medical aid the races seethed to be doomed to inevitable extinction. 

But even with this appalling incidence of malaria the doctor has done much in the right direction. 

Dressers have been systematically trained, dispensaries and hospitals have been opened, a card index taken of certain classes of patients and Government employees and in many other ways the campaign is proceeding in an up-to-date manner. 

To give one some idea of the work done in the last few years about 30,000 treatments for Malaria have been given in addition to much preventive work such as sanitation and oiling.

Much progressive work in other directions has been accomplished. A campaign against Ankylostomiasis on the Tenom District was commenced as early as 1919 and since then a bi-annual hookworm treatment has been carried out at all Interior Stations. 

In the Vernacular and Mission Schools a regular examination is made. It is recognised that this disease has a most devastating effect on children and causes such general weakness that other dim, see are often its sequelae. 

Studies, religious and secular, find more fertile soil in a healthy body than in one enfeebled through disease. 

To give, but a brief example of the result of the medical care taken with these schools; the doctor estimates that 85pc to 100pc of the children when they first come to school require medical treatment of some sort and after one or two mouths in school following adequate treatment 75pc to 85pc are fit. 

Transcending in importance all else that has been done is the fact that confidence of that extremely shy and conservative creature, the Kuria, has been gained. 

The Yaws campaign conquered his prejudices and overcame his inborn timidity. The combined tact and efficiency displayed by Dr. Campbell surmounted all – difficulties because the result of treatment was so truthfully portrayed to the natives. 

Previously such was their fear of European – methods that on one occasion the doctor dared not produce a lancet to open a boil and to pacify the patient a sharpened bamboo, to which he was well accustomed, had to be substituted. 

They were in deadly fear of an anaesthetic; it was something altogether beyond their comprehension. Once a native had his hand bitten off by a wild pig. 

He knew the danger of infection and fearing an anaesthetic, Le cauterized the stump by sticking it into a fire. When he regained consciousness he came to the doctor to have the stump dressed. 

Several natives have come with gun shot and parang wounds requiring amputation of fingers, thumbs etc and have always refused anaesthetics and sat without a sound while the operation was being done. 

The foregoing may help to make people realise the blind ignorant fear that pervades the native mind in connection with European medical treatment. 

On one occasion, while motorcycling to Tambunan, the doctor found that a fallen tree had completely blocked the narrow path, so leaving the motor cycle behind he walked on in the hope of obtaining aid. 

Fortunately a dozen Muruts were in the vicinity, but, as the doctor did not understand their language nor they his, sign language had to be used. 

Having grasped the doctor’s needs they returned with him and cut a way through the trunk for the motorcycle to pass through, but when the doctor offered to pay them they almost unanimously pointed to the veins in their elbows indicating that they desired a Yaws injection in lieu of payment. 

Could anything be more eloquent of the success attained in this campaign against Yaws?

The rate of maternal mortality in the Interior has always been high. One has to remember the inherent aversion of the female native to treatment by male dressers but this is being slowly overcome. A recent case confirms this view. 

The patient, a Murut woman, after days of labour, was left to fend for herself until the seventh day when she was brought to Hospital in a dying condition. 

Her friends divided her wordly goods and returned to her village stating that she was dead. 

Three weeks later that woman was convalescent and her friends returned with her clothes to be in readiness for her return to the village. 

Such instances are of incalculable value in overcoming the fear of a native to enter a hospital and such news will prove of immense value in future cases.

Not least among the achievements of Dr. Campbell is the institution of hospitals and dispensaries. 

Since his work commenced he has recommended and seen built Hospitals at Tambunan and Bundu Tuhan and a dressing station at Ranau, this latter place being some 115 miles from Tenom. 

Dispensaries have been opened at Tenom, Keningau, Bundu Tuhan, and Pensiangan, this last Station being 112 miles from Tenom and only about 50,wiles from the Dutch boundary. 

Recommendations have been sent in for dispensaries at Ranau, Kemabong, Mensangoh, Sensuran and Apin Apin. 

In addition to this pioneering work a commencement has been made in village child-welfare and village sanitary control. 

And at all important centres trained dressers are permanently stationed and at times they have gone to Dr. Campbell at Sapong Estate for further training. 

His labours have covered a vast field and include some notable successes but nothing has been done without much personal discomfort. 

Travel in the Interior Residency is not accompanied with any form of luxury or even ease. 

It calls for great energy and physical fitness, it demands patience and endurance and at times is not unattended with personal danger. 

In two cases has had to make arduous journeys to bring Irons outstations European Officers in serious condition. Early in 1918 he had to accompany his patient over some thirty wash-outs between Tenom and Beal fort. 

Those who know the violence of the Padas River in full flood through -the gorge and the almost impassable nature of many wash outs when composed of liquid mud can well imagine the fatigue experienced under such circumstances while doing what was possible for a dying man.

On other occasion he made a march of one hundred miles in heavy continuous rain to bring out an Officer stationed at Rundum, walking some .sixteen miles a day. 

What this means cannot be imagined by those who have not walked in the Interior over those back-breaking and heart-breaking razor-back mountains, where the grades are so steep that step must be cut into the hillside and where the path resembles the temperature chart of a case of septicaema but in feet of elevation instead of degres of heat.

Tenom is 700 feet above sea level but between Kemabong and Rundum one climbs up and down sometimes reaching 4,800 feet above sea level. 

By sitting on one another’s shoulder, stalwart sure-footed Murut carriers brought the patient safely in a long chair down those steep hill sides when the rest of them had in places to crawl on all fours. 

The foregoing gives but a brief account of Dr. Campbell’s energies in the Interior during the past fourteen years but a few figures may convey to the outside world some idea of what has been done. 

14,000 Yaws Treatments have been given to Natives since 1924. 

32,128 Injections were given including Estate labourers on Sapong and Melalap. 

34,277 Native Treatments were administered by the Interior medical personnel during 1930, and 40,000 to 45,000 is the estimated total for 1931. 

135,000 is a conservative estimate of total native treatments given in the past four years. 10,000 ampoules of Neosalvarsan were used in the Yaws campaign alone. 

2,000 pounds of Quinine have been given in the Interior during the doctor’s residence. 

Nothing of this wonderful pioneering record could have been done without the sanction and active aid of Government. The doctor gives warm thanks to the Principal Medical Officer, the Honourable Dr. P. A. Dingle, who has always supported his recommendations and unsparingly assisted him. 

Dr. Dingle has made many long trips himself into the Interior. Being an enthusiast for solitary walks he has seen for himself the condition of the natives and their villages, and experience gathered first hand in manner must have been of great value to Dr. Campbell. 

He is unstinted in his phrase of all those who have assisted him; especially does he mention the various Residents and other administrative Officers of the Interior.

The wonderful system of bridle paths throughout the Interior has contributed in no small measure to the carrying out of medical work. 

The rest houses at easy stages on all paths, the bridges and the general upkeep done by Government Officers must be seen to realised. 

Suffice it to say that without these roads the Interior today would be as wild as in those days before Government took control, when the entire population suffered from internecine wars, from epidemics and from famine.

Dr. Campbell has departed for good, but what he has done in alleviating the sufferings of the native population in the Interior will never be forgotten. 

His pioneering work must lead to greater things in the future and it has laid a foundation on which other Medical Officers can build. 

He was entirely instrumental in eradicating that scourge of the native, Yaws, and in this alone prepared the way to combat other and equally important diseases. 

The treatment of Yaws was started as a purely private venture at the doctor’s personal expense and it laid much of the ground work, if not all, for the future of Interior medicine. 

He can look back with pride on his work and we who remain should be grateful for his unceasing energy, his foresight and up-to-date methods.

When Dr. Campbell has left us and has settled down to new fields of medical work in distant countries, when the discomforts and hardships of the past in the Interior have been forgotten, he will probably for ever retain as some slight compensation for his labours, the memory of the beauty of the country in which he has worked for so many years – the evening shadows lengthening in the deep valleys between those heart-breaking razor-back hills; the glory of a mountain river fixed beautiful in the clear light of the morning and singing its song as it shines in the sunlight; the savage gloom of the gorges and the grandeur of the mountain peaks; the swift storms and the merciless floods; the joy and the fitness of hard living. – R. K. H. 

 





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