Monday, August 24, 2009

THE DOCTORS


As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on August 21, 2009 11:50 AM

1. I gave a talk after I was conferred an honorary degree by the International Medical University. I directed a major part of my talk to the new graduates.

2. I explained that medicine is not just a profession, a qualification for earning a good income. It is a vocation, a calling which involves dedication to the job of healing the sick and caring for them.

3. What their qualification confers upon them is not just a degree but as doctors they have been elevated to a special status and endowed with special powers. They would have in them the capacity to inspire confidence and trust in their patient. The confidence and trust are such that people would literally entrust their lives to them, allowing them to cut open their bodies and do things which could kill if done by others.

4. The skill and the power they acquire owe much to the society in which they were brought up and their access to education up to the highest level. Not all human society can do this. A poor society, an unstable society, an uncaring society would not be able to give them even primary education, much less training to become a doctor. The cost borne by the society is high.Whether they get a scholarship or their parents pay for their education, they all owe a debt to society. It behoves them to repay to society through the service in which they are trained.

5. They should therefore be ready to offer their services to the society in which they lived. It may be by serving the Government or if this is not attractive enough, at least their country. They can earn a good income in Malaysia's private sector.

6. But some easily forget their debt and are easily enticed by higher pay in other countries. These countries paid nothing for their education and training and yet for a little bit more money they get the services of the people we paid a lot to train whether in Government school and universities or in private ones. Quite often the countries which get the service of our doctors are developed and rich.

7. The nation loses a lot when the people we train opts to work in other countries.

8. But the association of doctors make matters worse by refusing entry to foreign doctors to practice. It wants to keep the opportunities for making money in this country to its members only. It does not mind Malaysian doctors going out but foreign doctors may not come in. Only if they work with the Government can they come in.

9. The flow is one-way. Our doctors can leave the country but foreign doctors cannot replace them. We are losing the brains that we develop without the foreign brain coming in.

10. Despite all the Government's efforts we are losing especially the much-needed specialists.

11. There is something wrong here. If the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) wishes to close the country to outsiders then it should also object to Malaysian doctors from leaving the country. As it is the MMA seem to be wanting to have their cake and to eating it as well.

12. I am not suggesting that as we have embraced globalisation and the free flow of capital etc that we should now allow foreign doctors to come and open their hospitals here. But I do think that if local hospitals need to employ foreign doctors then they should be allowed to.