KUALA LUMPUR, August 2 — Now the nation’s leading voice on health and combatting Covid-19, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has revealed that medicine was not his first choice.
In an interview with the New Straits Times (NST), he said he had initially wanted to be a mufti or an officer with religious authorities.
“I wanted to be a religious officer or a mufti! Yes, seriously,” he was quoted saying.
“When I was in Form 2, I started thinking about the purpose of my existence. I focused on religious studies to get to know myself on a deeper level and find answers to those existential questions.”
Affected by poverty, the now trained endocrine surgeon was later put in the care of the Klang Islamic College’s principal, where he continued his upper secondary studies.
“I took an avid interest in religious studies but the head of the religious studies called me up and told me to read medicine instead. He said that there were enough people studying religion but not enough studying medicine!”
“I wanted to help people at the end of the day, and I realised that medicine was a way to do just that,” he reportedly said.
Dr Noor Hisham also shared about his past, particularly his family history, and discovering he was an adopted child later in his years, at 46.
“That’s what they say,” he reportedly replied, shrugging when asked if he was born in Sungai Pelek, then replying “I don’t know” when asked about his origins.
Dr Noor Hisham said that he was adopted by a Chinese-Muslim family in Sungai Pelek, but his adopted parents later separated, and he was raised by his adopted mother, while braving through life’s hardships which came their way.
“We had to stand on our own. I learnt to be resourceful and independent from young.
“When you come from nothing, you’d think it’s difficult to read medicine. But the path is open. If you have good results you can do anything. It’s all up to you,” Dr Noor Hisham reportedly said.