Blog: Doctors - Continuous Education Plan
Navin Ramgoolam has given a public support to the plan of Health Minister Lormesh Bundhoo to introduce continuous education and training for our doctors. The Prime Minister said that a similar scheme will be introduced in the UK as from December this year. He added that research in the field of medicine is a continuous process and the findings and knowledge acquired should be put at the disposal of our doctors for the delivery of better health care.
Having benefitted personally from our free health service, I wish to express my appreciation at the excellent services available in our hospitals. Our doctors, nurses, supporting staffs are all qualified and give a very good service to the patients. Of course, even the best can be improved. There is always room for improvement.
Looking at the invitation card I received for the inauguration of the emergency and accident block of SSRN Hospital last week, I was pleasantly surprised at the exhaustive list of services provided to patients. I do not know of any country where such a comprehensive service is available, free to one and all. From open heart surgery, chemotherapy, neurosurgery, name it and it is all there.
The massive investment to improve health infrastructure and state of the art equipment is visible to everybody, even the blind. The brand new Jeetoo Hospital in Port Louis, SSRN emergency and accident block, new block at Flacq and Victoria hospitals, Medi Clinic at Triolet come to my mind. They can match the infrastructure of the private sector, even those of Apollo and Fortis.
If by accident, I or a close one meets with an accident, I will rush to a public hospital. At all times there is a qualified doctor, supporting staff, X-ray facilities, medicines and all required treatment including the services of a specialist doctor available free instantly.
But the private sector has an edge. They provide the services of super specialist doctors. It is also a well known fact that specialist doctors from the public sector provide their services in all private hospitals. They are allowed private practice after their normal working hours. It is another story that the hospitals serve as a nursery for private practice in private hospitals. The consolation is that their services are available both to the poor and the rich.
Normally it takes five years of study to qualify for an MBBS degree. Another two to four years to become a specialist. And some 16 year study and practice to become a super specialist, plus some gift of God.
I believe the scheme for continuous education for doctors will equip them to deliver quality service to patients. The patients in our hospitals do not come only from the poor and lower income groups. But even the rich avail themselves of high tech medicine provided for open heart surgery, chemotherapy, neurosurgery, delivery of babies, diabetic patients, etc.
Many foreign super specialists from France, Switzerland, India come regularly to train our doctors and clear backlogs of patients who cannot afford to go abroad for treatment not available here. Our doctors do not have the skill for micro surgery although MRI is available; PET scan is still not done. Government also gives a grant of Rs. 500,000 to patients going abroad for treatment not available in Mauritius.
Another ticklish scheme of Lormesh Bundhoo is to impose a uniform basic entry requirement for the study of medicine both in Mauritius and abroad for Mauritian students. It is said that the entry requirement will be two A’s and one B in science subjects at HSC level for all those who want to qualify for an MBBS degree. I advise that a careful study of all the implications of such a measure should be done. There is an international standard for entry requirement for medical studies which is 50% and above at A levels in science subjects. This has also democratized the learning of medicine. We should beware of reserving medicine only for the rich and elites.
Recognition of degrees is done normally on a bilateral basis and from recognized universities and institutions approved by the government. There are three medical schools in Mauritius giving MBBS and specialized degrees approved by University of Mauritius and University of Technology of Mauritius. Students from many countries come to study medicine here. Their entry requirement is the ones approved by the country of their citizenship.
India has recently introduced a system of screening exam for all graduates in medicine coming from abroad or graduating in India before being allowed to register and practice. All graduates from Mauritius have passed the screening test, some among the top. I recommend that a similar screening test be introduced in Mauritius and the internship be reduced from two years to one year. The two-year internship was introduced on account of the poor performance of some doctors coming from some specific countries.
It is said that schools are no longer a teaching institution, but a learning institution. And education is lifelong learning. The initiative of Lormesh Bundhoo is in the interest of both doctors and patients. Now that government is planning to have specialised hospitals for women and the elderly, we will need doctors with specialized knowledge. Our health service does not need only improvement but a transformation. We do not deserve only free health care but high tech medicine to one and all. Only continuous education of our doctors can provide such a service.