Malaysiakini Letter

Health minister making doctors ill

Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I am a doctor practicing in a clinic in the outskirts. I was totally taken aback when I read the media reports wherein the DG of Health was reported to have said that doctors will eventually be relieved from their right to dispense medication at their clinic. This is another unpopular move by the DG of Health who also happens to be the president of the Malaysian Medical Council.

Indeed, there was a lot of rumbling and grumbling on the ground almost immediately and many were not pleased by this statement by the DG. I think sooner or later the DG aims that doctors should be out of jobs.

There will come a day when medical laboratory technologists will say that they can run blood and urinary tests and are capable of inferring results so there is no need for the doctors to infer the results. Then the radiographers will say they can do X-rays and scans and therefore patients who need an X -ray or scan may just walk in to their ‘clinics’.

As it is the health ministry is trying to phase out doctors from hospital administration. Now we have paramedics who have reached the stage of deputy directors of government hospitals. Soon computers may be able to diagnose diseases and there you go - the mission and vision of the health ministry will have been achieved.

The right to dispense is the right of the doctors and that’s why we read pharmacology in medical school and journals/CMEs now. No one can say that a doctor doesn’t know much about drug interactions, drug reactions and adverse reactions. Only fools will believe that. If a patient is supposed to get a prescription from a doctor and goes to the nearby pharmacy, what guarantee is it that the medicine is being dispensed by a qualified pharmacist and not a helper in the pharmacy?

We all know that you only get to see the pharmacist in any pharmacy if you request to see one. All other transactions are done by helpers with no medical back ground whatsoever at the counters. You mean to say these helpers are better than a doctor in a clinic who gives personalised treatment to his patients ?

I also found out that doctors in Taiwan and Korea went on a strike for three days despite government warnings. When there were demonstrations last year in Malaysia, the government was quick to belittle the organisers by saying that ‘this is not our culture’.

Well, Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai, the dispensing of medicines at clinics in Malaysia has been a Malaysian culture ever since time can remember and this system has worked very well in the Malaysian scenario. Kindly do NOT change this workabale, time-tested Malaysian culture.

The guardians of healthcare in this country are the doctors and not with the minister, the DG, the pharmacists, the MLTs, the radiographers or anyone else. The body that represents us is the Malaysian Medical Association and NOT the Malaysian Medical Council.

Any change in policy should be done in consultation with the doctors and not by force by the Minister or the DG as in the case of the Private Health Act which was bulldozed past us last year.

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