Celebrating Independence Day

I reside in Australia and have been trying to campaign to change the way that Australia observes its national day. Instead of it just being a celebration of Australia, I’m proposing that the morning be set aside for reflection and discussion of the mistakes that Australia has made over the years, and the afternoon a celebration of the positive things that Australia has done as a country. 

I believe that this could be a model for how all countries observer their national days. All countries have made mistakes as well as had successes. This would be a more nuanced way of observing the national day and would be a form of insurance against repeating past mistakes.

With Mauritius just about to celebrate its Independence day, I invite the people of the Mauritius to consider this idea for how this day is observed. 

Adrian Dow

* * *

Health for All – and SSR

1960s: The Premier Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam welcomed with pride the arrival of a new batch of young doctors freshly qualified mainly from East and West Europe, and India; he appreciated their willingness to take up immediate employment with the Ministry of Health but was concerned about their reluctance to be posted to the district hospitals serving the rural areas. It was against their own publicly stated resolution “to serve the country” so often expressed by themselves prior to their departure for higher studies, some of them on State Scholarships.

The government’s program for an overall upgrading of the health sector through service decentralisation at both general practitioner and specialist levels was jeopardized. The long dangerous drive from town outwards, the lack of appropriate logistics to meet their qualifications, light workload in the outstations, family commitments were issues brought up by the doctors to justify their reluctance. Indeed, many had already migrated from “la campagne” to “la ville”. The Ministry maintained its decision and as incentive granted them the ease to bring about the necessary adjustments at their respective sites of work with the prospect of a promotion at administrative level. Again refusal.

The intransigence of the then Minister of Health did not help. Threats to paralyse the health sector through strikes and resignations were made by the doctors. The Premier was anxious, and he established a direct line of communication with the doctors through the Private Parliamentary Secretary (PPS) of the Ministry of Health. The latter was requested to make a discreet survey of the current health situation in the whole island and to report directly to him. It turned out that many of the doctors were doing private practice against payment both at home and in private clinics during their official working hours.

A high percentage of their patients were from the rural low-income group who “were sick because they were poor, became poorer because they were sick and sought treatment”. Quality care in private practice differed from that in public sector. Waiting time and waiting list in the MOH were longer than that in the private sector by same practitioners. The rural areas voiced their concern about the lack of equity; renewed their request for the long-awaited corrective measures in this essential service. With the support of the PPS, a campaign was initiated to lobby for change.

At the next meeting with the health professionals, SSR asked them:

“kifair dimoune dans villaz pa bizin gagne specialist dans zotte l’endroit?”

(“Why shouldn’t villagers not have access to the same specialist care as made available by the government in the urban areas?”)

Doctors’ reply “Fine apprane dan gran pays grand l’université avec autant difficultés gagne kalifications pa pou travaille dans banne ti l’endroit, ena l’hopital dans dan bois, plitot ferme l`hospital la“

(Doctors’ response: “It would be demeaning for us to be working in remote villages after so many years of medical training in prestigious universities in the advanced countries… Better close down that hospital!”)

SSR in his soft but firm style reminded them of the Hippocratic Oath and added: “To bizin donne l’occasion dimoune dans village aussi cone to compétence…”

(You should be making your competence available to the village folks as well.”)

No challenge to that. The PPS, present at the meeting, said “goal!” in a low tone and nearly clapped.

The MOH then set up certain rules and regulations for all doctors to abide with among which: all doctors irrespective of their grades, residential address, family status should be posted both in central, in district hospitals and annexed care points on a 2-year rotation basis. Rodrigues and the Outer Islands also had a health coverage program. The privilege of private practice outside normal working hours was officially granted to specialists in scarcity areas.

All health care points from remote dispensaries to main hospitals were upgraded. The “ti lopital dans dans bois” which many wanted to close down was, at the insistence of the PPS and approved by SSR, converted into a national hospital.

Dr Mala Modun-Bissessur

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 10 March 2023

An Appeal

Dear Reader

65 years ago Mauritius Times was founded with a resolve to fight for justice and fairness and the advancement of the public good. It has never deviated from this principle no matter how daunting the challenges and how costly the price it has had to pay at different times of our history.

With print journalism struggling to keep afloat due to falling advertising revenues and the wide availability of free sources of information, it is crucially important for the Mauritius Times to survive and prosper. We can only continue doing it with the support of our readers.

The best way you can support our efforts is to take a subscription or by making a recurring donation through a Standing Order to our non-profit Foundation.
Thank you.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *