Monday, 25 August 2008 10:54 AM

Where are the new doctors?

Friends Ill have to posit something for you as a medical officer myself, not on behalf of my Health Ministry or doctors for that matter. The issue was initially thrown overboard in the media(without much thought I guess) and it is sad because only one causal aspect was highlighted (officers working offshore). Nor was there any clear solution suggested for the problem and that is why we assume and presume; we suggest and propose, and exercise our calculated guesses and freedoms (rightfully). Togamae has referred to some of the practical constraints and, good on him, gave us a menu to select from in addressing this issue. I do not brush aside petty politics as a form of insecurity. More doctors left our poor nation during the ethnic tension, and that was when tight budgeting by the government means a smile to the "army" and a frown for the rest of us. These guys who left did so for their security(e.g, help them repay their housing loans and as well as to avoid the treakling consequences of poor political judgments which resulted in some degree of harassments). Most of us were intimidated but heartfully remained to serve the country. Not completely correct; most of our academic certificates were either SICHEs or somehere within the rungs or not in "demanding" professions. Otherwise a handful of us would have trekked the same path then.

As alluded to by someone already there was an attempt to revive the Doctors' Scheme of Service (SoS), the very document which was the center of the Dr's strike in the late 80s or early 90s. At least its implementation was pursued but was then "on hold" and archived. Now we have a few of our Drs returning partly due to this partial execution of the SoS.

Another point: never before has the Ministry of Health intensively engaged in postgraduate training than this very moment, and one can reason that with the minute number of Drs we have even the absence of one officer would be at the public's outcry and peril. Expediting for greener pastures is not confined to this profession only. The government is affected sector-wide. The NTU and other relevant govt institution may have forgotten to review and evaluate their training catalogues and consult the various ministries on the pool of human resource it has bred over the decades. I'm pretty sure we would have been shocked to see any publication from the NTU and the colossal deficits in manpower within the various sectors. What I am trying to arrive at now is that this brain-drain is sector-wide (the addresses of several conrtibutors here is a dubious demonstration already). I am sure you would agree with me that masterplans alone would be less suffice to make any concrete impact. We need some form of regulatory voucher in the legislature as well (if there is none) to enforce what is available there and strengthen enabling environments. The professional organizations (e,g SIMA) should be listening now to the public grievances tampering with our ear-drums.

Thank you

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Michael Vavala and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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