EACH major organisation in society has its own knowledge base and its own role and relationship networks. The role network of the police force includes criminals, wrongdoers, legal transgressors, attorney-general, lawyers, judges, the courts and the Pardons Board.
The role network in the medical profession includes doctors and patients, family members and nurses, pharmacists and medical equipment suppliers, and, sometimes legal people as well. Each organisation has its own degree and levels of knowledge, and, individual and collective emotions. Hospitals are places for tears, prayers and high professionalism, places of joy and hope when people are cured of diseases.
The Hippocratic oath of the medical profession is the inspiration, and framework for the formulation of the code of ethics and the codes of practices of other professions. The medical profession is also the benchmark for other professions. It is a stressful profession where, daily, doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and other health workers have to deal with all kinds of emergencies. They should be respected for their contributions, professionalism, sacrifices and services of all kinds.
The leading edge discoveries in medical and surgical sciences must go hand-in-hand with leading edge knowledge in pharmaceutical and nutritional sciences, technical innovations and equipment. Just as the engineering sciences have embarked on the multi-disciplinary curriculum, encompassing civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, in the medical sciences, more is needed for an integrated multidisciplinary medical sciences curriculum. The need for disciplinary mastery and depth must, however, remain.
Modern medicine or western medicine has roots in earlier civilisations, particularly Islamic civilisation. However, advances in all fields of knowledge have led to great advances in modern medicine, which is not just about western medicine. A nation becomes a developed nation when it provides the best care and health standards possible. Its health leaders are in leading edge practice and in contact with researchers and top practitioners in the field.
The Institute of Medical Research was a leading institute globally. Now, there are other institutes and private laboratories providing equipment and services related to the health needs of the people. Such institutes conduct research on rare diseases and other ailments like snake, spider and scorpion bites.
There are several universities offering degrees in Chinese Traditional Medicine. Such degree programmes should include courses on Ayurveda, Islamic and Malay traditional medicine. There are actually authorities in these various fields of traditional medicine and efforts must be made to identify them and bring them to the mainstream of internationally recognised quality standards, particularly for accreditation.
There are clear niche areas of opportunities for Malaysia to be a world leader in complementary medicine when an enriching, practical and robust curriculum is formulated integrating the accumulated received wisdom and genius of the three major world civilisations. Also, the various areas of complementary medicine can compile and develop contents as standalone specialisations sustaining their disciplinary uniqueness.
As there is focus on complementary medicine, community medicine and preventive medicine, there should be focus on the most up-to-date equipment and drugs and other medicines and facilities for those who need attention in ICU wards. Such improvements in drugs would enable doctors to help patients in bacterial, fungal and viral attacks, particularly aggressive and virulent bacteria or viruses, whether common or rare.
There is a moratorium in the establishment of new medical schools based on the logic of supply and demand. Every nation has to address its areas of specialisation needs. As society becomes passionate in participative and competitive sports, and there are regular sports injuries, sports medicine has expanded. Physiotherapy and related degrees become important areas of needs for the healthcare of the people.
Medical tourism provides an opportunity for global excellence. Services and care of the highest standards must match the power and impact of marketing of medical services. With the agenda of global provision of medicine, there could still be expansion of existing medical schools regardless of the moratorium.
We should work towards building a professional philosophy that each person has the right to receive equal health services irrespective of their socioeconomic class. This philosophy should be a national philosophy, particularly a philosophy championed by health and medical professionals.
It is time to seriously consider that those who study in the profession do not just begin enrolment in medical schools with excellent “A” level of matriculation results. More should be required.
Would-be doctors should be required to possess a first degree before applying to do medical degrees. The same standard of maturity and rigour should also be applied to other professions.
The writer is president of Malaysian Association for Education