Sunday, February 26, 2006

Privitisation compromises medical standards

The Medical Industry and Substandard doctors

Your front page reports “Excuse me doc,do you know what you are doing? (NST, Feb1) and medical colleges churning out substandard doctors may be shocking to many but to those in the medical profession, it is nothing unexpected. These facts were revealed by none other than the Director General of Health,Datuk Dr.Ismail Marican himself.

Gauging by the speed at which we were privatizing our medical and health services it is no surprise that we are producing not only substandard doctors and nurses but also suboptimal medical services to our patients in both government and private hospitals. The privatization has produced a lucrative medical industry for the advantage of business entrepreneurs.

We have many modern teaching hospitals and with the latest state of the art equipment but the skills of our doctors and medical staff are rapidly depleting over the years.

We have many institutions of higher learning and medical schools but insufficient quality teachers of our own. We desperately depend on low caliber foreign expertise to train our own doctors. We are just interested in quantity to fulfill the lecturer student ratio without considering the quality.

All we need is a handful of quality public medical schools staffed with our own experts who are fully committed and dedicated to the training of our own medical students.

Our premier medical schools were doing just that until this the privatization policy was introduced.. Dedicated and quality doctors and specialists were shown the exit to “greener pastures”, many leaving rather reluctantly. In the private sector they were reduced to mere businessmen doctors, slowly but surely losing the hard acquired clinical skills and experience, similar to what we call disuse atrophy in medicine. I’m sure Datuk Ismail Marican will bear testimony to this.

Meanwhile numerous private medical schools with hardly any resources have sprung up all over country to take advantage of the increased demand to do medicine. Quick profits were reaped from poor parents some of whom spent all their life savings with the hope to create doctors of their children.

The medical profession, once renowned for its nobility, is being mutilated by big business co operations to reap huge profits from medical education and the provision of medical care to patients, which ideally should be provided freely by any caring government.

Dr.Chris Anthony
Medical schools everywhere, none of calibre

With the announcement of Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor (KUIS) to offer medical degrees courses, the total number of medical schools in the country will be 17.
This figure exceeds the number of medical schools in Singapore (1), Canada (16), Ireland (5) and even Australia (11). This figure I’m sure will keep multiplying fast over the years as privatization of our health and education systems continue. The proposed Health Insurance Scheme will further enhance its growth in the name of achieving a developed status by 2020.

In the enthusiasm of increasing the number of doctors very quickly, we have overlooked the two most important prerequisites for the training of doctors. These are firstly, adequate experienced qualified teachers who themselves are practicing clinicians and secondly, a properly equipped and staffed teaching hospital. If one were to closely scrutinize our medical schools, both public and private, none of them will fulfill these 2 important criteria.

As a result we are churning out doctors who are lacking in clinical skills. This was lamented recently by the Director General of Health as reported in our mainstream media.
Medical training is a stewardship where the student has to be “attached” to his teacher all the time, in the emergency room, in the wards, operation theatre, and outpatient clinics and during follow-up visit after discharge. He learns to manage the patient by observing and assisting his teacher, who himself is actively, involved in the management the patient. In the process the knowledge, skills and ethics of the master are transferred to the potential doctor.

Regrettably this form of training, once a standard practice, is not seen in our medical schools these days, even in our public institutions.

We have many teaching centers with excellent physical set up, but none of our medical degrees are recognized internationally. What is more distressing is that our authorities are least bothered about international recognition.

We aspire to become a regional centre of excellence in almost every field including medical treatment and training but our standards are in fact declining over the years. In contrast Australia and Singapore with fewer medical schools, have achieved a highly reputable international status in medicine, leaving us trailing far behind.

Dr.Chris Anthony







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Higher education over-commercialised

Higher education too costly

I refer to your report “Education fair a huge success”(Star,Feb21).

Yes, the fair was a great service for our students and their parents for providing the opportunity to scout for the institutions of higher learning and enhance their career. Come beginning of each new year parents and students are thrown into confusion of what course and which university to choose. Today there are so many such institutions of higher learning offering so many courses that the confusion becomes even greater.

The sad thing is nowadays our students are not provided career guidance when in schools. The system just encourages excellence in examination only, so much many of our school-leavers are uncertain of what course is suitable for them.

The rapid privatization of our tertiary education, I feel, is disastrous for the future on the nation. Most of the private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) are not fully equipped to conduct the courses that they advertise. They try to overcome this inadequacy by establishing twinning programs with foreign universities. The phrase “get British degree right in Malaysia” is a familiar advertisement in our papers these days.

Today, parents have to come up with huge sums of money to provide decent education for their children. This may go into hundreds of thousands of ringgit and not many parents can afford that. Even pre-university courses have become expensive.
Why can’t our own public universities twin with these private institutions to provide their degrees at an affordable fee?

The system of encouraging private universities and colleges has made the once popular local STPM examination irrelevant. STPM is a time-tested and reliable examination which has been there for so long. It is now replaced with the A-level and matriculation examinations which are foreign and costly.

The government should check the haphazard growth of private universities and colleges. It has the responsibility to ensure that both the public and private institutions provide quality education at an affordable cost

Dr.C.Anthony

Education system needs revamp

Education system needs revamp

I agree with Professor Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim that communal ties are at their most delicate in nearly four decades. It is terrifying to realise how easily racial and religious sentiments can be aroused by the powers-that-be for political advantage.

The education system which has become more communal despite its supposed non-ethnic and non-religious status is the main reason for the growing division between the races. Initially, we had all races studying together in one class but then they were segregated by race for the purpose of religious and moral lessons resulting in students of same race grouping together, but under the same roof. Today we have taken another backward step with each race cocooned in their own vernacular schools under separate roofs and rarely do they ever come together.

We need to revamp the education system to return it to its original status and aspiration of unifying the races through the national schools. These national schools should reflect the ethnic diversity of the nation in terms of the population of pupils and teachers. It is common knowledge that if there is diversity in the same environment then there will be more tolerance and goodwill.

Pupils of all races must be placed in one class so that they can interact freely with one another. Emphasis on their common identities rather than their differences should be encouraged. Such schools will churn out politicians who are true national leaders and not ethnic champions.

In the 60s, every citizen looked up to politicians as Malaysian leaders but now we consider them as leaders of the Malays, Chinese or Indians. Even the prime minister, who should be the leader of all races, is now seen as the leader of the Malays only.

If we want to survive in this globalised world, we Malaysians - regardless of race - must unite and pool our resources and expertise so as to remain competitive.

We yearn for the day when Malaysians will share a single identity, but gauging by present developments in the country, this is fast eluding us. Our aspiration for a united Malaysia is not being appreciated by the present generation of leaders who are taking over the reins of power.

We must halt this rot now with the revamp of our education system.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, February 24, 2006

Religion being used for political reasons

I refer to your report “Nazri: Islam used at nation’s expense”,(Malaysiakini,Feb.23).
At last,Datuk Mohd Nazri, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, has admitted the shocking fact that politicians have used Islam for fishing votes at the expense and detriment of the nation. The greater shock is the admission that they have done despite them not believing in it.

It is very sad that today our politicians have to resort to use religion for their misguided political ambitions. By doing so the sanctity of the religion is trampled upon. Little due they realize that they are doing a disservice to their own faith.
His advice is for secular minded Muslims is to speak up. There are millions of these people but the government prefers them to remain silent. In fact if it is really serious in the voice of the silent majority, it should give more pace for freedom of expression of their opinion and suggestions.

In fact every criticism of the administration, of whatever nature, is cleverly manipulated by the powers- that- be into racial or religious ones thereby silencing the public. In fact the Malaysian public displays more tolerance and restraint despite being subjected to the frequent assaults by the politicians in this respect.

Lawyer, Haris Ibrahim, rightly pointed out that we may be held to ransom by Islamic hardliners and we don’t want to surrender this beautiful nation to a few people or hardliners who pretend to speak for the majority. In fact it is true, not only in Islam but issues as well, that the more aggressive and vociferous minority dominates the politics of every organization with no consideration for the real masters, the rakyat.

Unless we understand and follow the true precepts of our faiths, abuses by these misguided minorities would continue to rule and no reason or logic would make any sense to them.

Dr.Chris Anthony
Racial unity begins in school

I refer to the letter by Ahmad Sirajudin,(NST,Feb.21) entitled “Depolarise schools”.

I fully agree with the writer that all we have to do to depolarize the schools by placing Ali, Ah Chong and Samy into the same class from the time they begin their education in standard one.

Racial unity which was simple those days have taken a rather complicated path and have become an arduous task these days. This mainly is the result of racial polarization that starts at a very young age, even at the kindergarten stage.

Religious and moral educations are undeniably important but we must not use them as an excuse for segregation of the children by ethnicity and faith. That would undermine the very purpose or religion itself.

The present generations of Malaysians, in their thirties, who are taking over the reigns of administration are the product of the present segregated education system. The teachers and students who belong to this system fail to appreciate our concerns of a united Malaysia as they have not seen the more united nation of the yesteryears.

It may be a formidable task to achieve the desired level of racial integration, under the prevailing conditions, but we can still succeed we really put our hearts to it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Racial disunity gaining momentum

Racial disunity gaining momentum

I was impressed by your report “Khoo Kay Kim – The lonely bridge builder”, (NST, Feb19).

I for one admire Professor Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim for earnestly championing racial unity in the country and fully understand his depression over what is happening today. He can rest assured that he is not alone in this feeling of frustration and despair. In fact there are millions of Malaysians out there, the so called silent majority, who share his feelings but unable to anything about it.

I agree that communal ties are at their most delicate in nearly four decades. It is terrifying to realize that how easily racial and religious sentiments can be aroused by the powers that be for political advantage.

The education system which has become more communal despite its supposed non-ethnic and non-religious status is the main reason for the growing division between the races.

Initially we had all races studying together in one class, and then they were segregated by race for the purpose of religious and moral classes, resulting in students of same race grouping together, but under the same roof. Today we have taken another retrograde step – each race studying in own vernacular schools under separate roofs and rarely do they ever come together.

We need to revamp the education system to return it to its original status and aspirations of unifying the races through the national schools. Pupils of all races must be placed in one class so that they can interact freely with one another. Emphasis on their common identities rather than the differences should be encouraged. There should also be a racially balanced mixture of teachers in all our national schools. It is common knowledge that if there is diversity in the same environment then there will be more tolerance and goodwill.

We need politicians who are true national leaders not ethnic champions. In the sixties every citizen looked up to the politicians as Malaysian leaders but now we consider them as leader of the Malays, Chinese or Indians. Even the prime minister, who should be the leader of all races, is now seen as the leader of the Malays only.

If we want to survive in this globalize world, we Malaysians regardless of race, must unite and pool our resources and expertise so as to remain competitive.

Like Professor Khoo, we too yearn for the day when Malaysians will share a single identity, which gauging by present developments in the country, is fast eluding us. Our aspirations of a united Malaysia are not being appreciated by the present generation who are taking over the reigns of power.

Dr.Chris Anthony
Butterworth

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Religion is means to peace not violence

Religion must be a means to peace not violence

The world is once again thrown into crisis today with religious and cultural conflicts as a result of the caricature depicting the Prophet Mohammad.
We all agree that press freedom has a limit. It should not be an excuse to ridicule any particular religion or culture. We should all vigorously condemn this abuse of press freedom wherever it occurs. At the same time the reaction to any such abuse should also be one of peaceful protest and not violence.

As believers, we should understand that God and His prophets are far above all the demeaning actions of certain human beings. Human ridicule will not touch them in any way. As His followers we are asked to be patient and restrain from any violent reactions even if He is ridiculed and insulted. God who is full of mercy and forgiveness will definitely not condone any form of brutal retaliation from His followers.

As followers of whatever religion we, our words and deeds must bring pride to the faith we profess. Religion should be a means to peace not violence.

Dr.Chris Anthony
Butterworth

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