Extraordinary Doctors: Johor Bahru: Dr Ho Ung Chek
by Dr Tan Chow Wei
I am proud to be one of the very few doctors who knows Dr. Ho Ung Chek personally and still keep in touch with him by phone almost on monthly basis (in fact, just had a long chat with him 2 days ago).
Dr. Ho Ung Chek is truly a legend. His popularity is not due to eloquence of speech (David Quek rightly noted that he spoke little but yet able to command respect from his patients). He was also humble enough to admit what he was not sure.
25 years ago when I was the first GP to practise abdominal ultrasound, he used to refer suspected gall stones, renal stones, fibroids, and ovarian cysts to me for "confirmation", and I found him to be right >90% of time, just based on good old "history & physical examination"! He also referred his patients to me for ECGs.
Those were days before the birth of Johor Specialist Hospital and other private hospitals. That's how we became good friends and colleagues. When he retired and sold his clinic (alas, now closed due to poor management), he wrote case summaries of his most faithful patients and told them to come and see me. That's why I need to "report" to him regularly --- mind you, he knows all his patients by name together with names of their family memebrs!).
Little known is his special interest in Multiple Sclerosis which he managed with remarkable results with interferon and regular doses of bee venom therapy (Apitherapy). One of the patients we co-managed is a 50+ year old Chinese lady who was quadriplegic and half-blind due to MS, and was in severe depression. When started on BVT, she made such progress that she is now able to move around in a wheelchair and has regained motor power of both hands to grade 3. Just saw her last week in my clinic, she cheerfully told me that she is looking forward to hold up in her hands her 1st grand child who is arriving in June this year.
In Monash where I am teaching Family Medicine, the Year 4 curriculum has now been revamped to put the highest emphasis on GP, on top of Pychiatry, O&G, and Paediatrics.
I believe that the future is still bright for general practice if we as GPs do not allow ourselves to degenerate into "cough-and-cold" doctors but instead to upgrade by CME/CPD so that we can hold our heads up as "specialists in the breadth of medicine". Woe to those who resist change and refuse to learn, for medicine is always a life-long learning experience.
Dr Tan Chow Wei, is also a GP and attached to the Monash University Medical School, Johor Bahru, as Professor of Family Medicine.