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COMMENT | Stop racial and other abuse of house officers

COMMENT | The recent case of abuse, which may have caused the death of a house officer who fell from a multi-storey building, has yet again put in the spotlight the unfortunate plight of house officers who face all kinds of pressures during their training, including long hours and atrocious work conditions.

That’s bad enough as it is, but recent reports suggest instances of extreme racial, verbal and even physical abuse at Penang Hospital, which is a strong indication that not only has the situation not improved but has considerably deteriorated. They indicate civil rights violations and racism to boot.

The Vibes report said: “Speaking on condition of anonymity, he (a former houseman) said that those from a particular community enjoy privileges and are treated with kindness by seniors from the same community.

“Housemen who are from the particular community and speak the same language are taken care of by medical officers (MOs) who belong to the same community, '' he added.

“These MOs, who also trained other housemen from different communities, gave negative remarks in their assessment of the ‘others’, even in the reports that were submitted to the specialists.

“He claimed that during ward rounds, the MOs would speak in their own mother tongue, which only a particular group of people understood. The other housemen would need to ask those who understood what transpired to translate for them.”

Reports have tip-toed carefully over the racial identities involved but it is understood that the discrimination in this case stems from...

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