Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UNITY: Our Medical Fraternity must learn to work together

UNITY: Our Medical Fraternity must learn to work together
by Dr David KL Quek

Dear medical colleagues and enthusiastic friends on the ethereal waves of cyberspace,

I've been active in medical societies and associations for close to 30 years, and I hope you will at least bear with me when I caution against internet members being too overzealous in casting aspersions against older institutions, societies, etc.

With due respect, I think we mustn't get carried away with our own importance and imagine that what we wish for and articulate loudly in this internet forum, we will get!

Different societies and associations have their own rules and regulations and constitutions and are not bound by the MMC or whichever authority except as determined by the ROS. Come on, some of these societies have been there for decades and still survive because some things they do must still be effective. 

Most if not all of these have gone through numerous challenges as well and yes perhaps some of them appear tired and out of date, but nevertheless they have real physical members who pay annual dues, are life members, etc. The MMA for instance still has more than 8,000 paying members, and more than 2-3000 life members. They are real societies with tangible support and are therefore recognised by the health ministry and other government and regulatory authorities .

I sincerely commend the MPCN and MPCAM for reigniting the private sector doctors and their interests across cyberspace, but please don't be under the impression that this is enough. Believe me, right now it is not. It is indeed a great platform to share information rapidly, and have quick responses from anyone without much need to edit or whatever.

But it is certainly not sufficient to influence hard-nosed realities without proper methods of preparing for example working papers or major policy guidelines or even clear systematic arguments vis-a-vis e.g. some of the contentious regulations that the private sector has been saddled with, for the medical profession.

Some of these much lamented problems, concepts and ideas are already there, but they need updating and refreshing and yes, renewing every now and again because circumstances change, political and regulatory positions change. But perhaps some of the processes and issues need more attention into formulating these into solid tangible plans of action. 

But many of these discourse don't need the tedious and unnecessary re-inventing of the wheel. Most would need re-tweaking and modifying, and made current and in sync with the times and with our current aspirations and wishes.

Let's get enough interested people (medical doctors) to work in concrete terms and not just simply writing facebook commentaries. Whether we like it or not, most commentaries in facebook or twitter just fritter away into obsolescence and become forgotten bits and bytes of the ever enlarging humongous cyberspace.

The reality for societies wishing to make any impact however, is that there is actually quite a lot of physical work that needs to be done--debates, discussions, planning, writing out proposals, getting majority of those around to agree or compromise, then getting these formulated ideas into working or policy summaries then papers, then presenting these to the authorities, then maybe some of these get translated into regulations or changes etc., if members wish to fully participate.

But we must get into mainstream activities where some of your points of view will then hopefully, be incorporated and concretised into real change. Imagine if anyone and everyone is speaking, how much of these disparate 'noise' are in total agreement, or are being heard at all? 

Yes, currently we appear to be friendly and cautiously sensitive toward each other, but this can all easily change when even simple disagreements arise... there is language and statement consistencies that need at least most to agree upon, but these cannot happen with just individual postings all over the place. Is there anyone to collate or to summarise or to build up a systematic transmissible model of our thoughts. our ideas? I think not yet.

But then again, we think some of the things we talk about are so important and unique, but most of these have been raised and discussed before by others, with most falling on deaf ears, even with the presentation of formal papers, dialogues, workshops, etc. We must learn to work together rather than to alienate other societies, which I'd tried to do but failed during my presidency of the MMA in 2009-2011, because too many of us work in silos and are unwilling to work together!

When I recently tried to broker a bridge between MPCN with the current MMA leadership, there were strong objections from the MMA exco because many there felt that MPCN has been 'badmouthing' them without understanding the history, contributions and the traditions of MMA's struggles.

Perhaps the 'old guards' are too sensitive, you might say... Grow up and take it on the chin, and get over it, you say... but that is the reality of life, we do get hurt and are displeased, angered even, when slighted or worse criticised! Sometimes unknowingly, we do condemn unfairly without knowing all the facts and the figures...

Again, I say let's not get carried away with the fact that we in the MPCN/MPCAM are the only ones who know what has been happening in the medical profession and our practice. We're not, and even I am certainly not the know-all either... just someone who has been there and done that, in my limited capacity to try build more bridges and maybe influence in some small measures the Malaysian health scene, which is incredibly complex!

It will not happen overnight and no amount of 'shouting' in the dark would make any major dent on the system that we are all trying to improve and make sense of...

Sorry if I offend anyone! Just food for thought, which I feel is timely! Thanking those of you who are willing to listen and read this long plea!

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