What ails the health sector 

Points to Ponder 

By Lex

A First Point: How many patients is a medical officer in the public service expected to see in a three-hour session, say from nine o’clock to noon or from one o’clock to four? If on an average the doctor spends five minutes with each patient, he will see 36 patients in the three-hour session which means 72 patients during a full day’s work. But I am told that a doctor is expected to see about 130 to 140 patients in three hours. In the circumstances, neither the patient gets the attention that he deserves nor the doctor the satisfaction that he done a good job as he should. Who is responsible for such a situation? The answer is that the blame must be shared among the patients, the officers at the ministry and the doctors and other officers at the hospitals, dispensaries and other places where patients are given some treatment.

Let us start with the patients. I am told that about 50% of the persons who attend the hospitals should not go to the hospitals or at most they should attend the dispensary nearest to their place of residence. However, you cannot convince them to take this course, because they think that they must see a doctor at the hospital, and nobody else, even if they will have to wait for half a day, so what? You must have heard of the case of one or two persons who accompany a genuine patient to the hospital, those accompanying the patient also get a patient’s card as they are in the hospital although they do not need to see a doctor, they might as well see the doctor, get examined and are prescribed two or three types of medicines which they will never take. Those persons do not realize that they waste the time of the doctors, they cause government to lose so much money by throwing away so much medicine that can be put to good use with genuine patients.

The supposed patients act in this manner because they know that they get the doctor’s services at the expense of the government and the medicines also at the expense of the government. If those same patients had to pay for the services of the doctor or for the medicines, I am sure that they would not have wasted the time of the doctor nor would they have collected the medicines.

Then we come to the doctors, the nursing and other officers. Some of the doctors are very good, as good as the best anywhere in the world; they know their job, they talk very nicely to the patients and you would like to suggest that all doctors should learn manners from such doctors. Such doctors are to be found among the senior ones and these are the ones who are not interested in going for private practice. Those doctors who want to make more money or who are not interested with the conditions of service in government should just go for private practice. In other words they should resign from government service and make do with what they can get in private service. But what they want is to get a full pay packet from government and another full one from their private practice.

I reported some time ago on the practice in India whereby all Indian students who study in any country outside India to become a medical doctor have to sit for an examination on their return and surprisingly, only five percent — yes, just 5% — pass the Indian examination; 95% of the foreign qualified supposed doctors fail the examination and they can never practise as doctors in India, their own country. What about the Mauritian supposed doctors who qualify in the same universities? All of them are allowed to practice here, and all of them go in the public sector, in the public hospitals and in the dispensaries. This is the reason why I say that I cannot trust those supposed doctor to look after me when I need the services of a doctor.

And this is the reason for which I have made a case for an examination for any person qualified in a foreign country as a medical doctor. I do not know why the Minister of Health is not interested in making the necessary arrangements for newly qualified Mauritian students arriving from foreign countries to be put through such an examination. I can understand that the would-be doctors are likely to protest. But the country cannot be lax in matters relating to the health of the people, indeed, in the matter of life and death of the people.

This practice of two years’ training after graduation before a doctor can be given his authorisation to practise will not do. If a person is worthless after one year’s training, do you think that he will become efficient after a further training of another year? Ask the good specialists under whom would-be doctors get their training, I am sure the Minister will get the proper answer. Otherwise why the training of one year has been extended to two years? I am not saying that all the doctors qualified in foreign countries are no good. Some of them are good, a few are very good, but how to separate the wheat from the chaff?

And then I have also been told that the newly recruited doctors have no manners whatsoever, they do not know how to talk to patients, their relationship with the senior doctors is such that the senior doctors prefer not to deal with them. I am sure that such doctors should be encouraged to go for private practice… 

Creole at school

A Second Point: The Minister of Education is moving fast on the use of the Creole language in the schools. I am not clear on one very important point. Is the Minister saying that the Creole language will be used to explain the various subject taught in the schools or will the Creole language be taught as a subject and the pupils and the pupils will be examined at the end of the year?

Anyway, I am glad that the Creole language is given due consideration by this government and no other.

I am against this idea of changing the appellation to suit I do not know what imagination. Let the name “Creole” so-spelt be preserved for the language. There is one group of persons who claim that the Creole language is a proper language, with a vocabulary of its own, a proper grammar, a recognized method of writing and understood by many peoples, and there is another group that says that the Creole language is not a language proper nor is it a dialect, it is only a patois, derived mostly from French, without a vocabulary of its own, without a grammar and without a standard form of writing. People can write the Creole language as they wish.

I will ask the Minister of Education Vasant Bunwaree whether he is thinking of giving the same treatment and importance to Bhojpuri as he is giving to the Creole language. I am putting this question because I did not hear him saying anything on this subject. Anyway, I think that he must be asked this question as time is running out for Bhojpuri, so he must have the courage to tell us what he has in store for Bhojpuri. We shall come back on this particular subject again because it interests more people than some believe.  

What about the Indians?

A Third Point: I cannot fail to ask Muheshwar Choonee the Minister of Arts and Culture to tell us when and what he is contemplating to do to commemorate the arrival of the Indians to “colonise” Mauritius. I know that some persons will resent the fact that I am using the word “colonise”, but I will tell those persons that the word was used in 1935 when the presence of the Indians was celebrated that year.

Now that the celebration of the Battle of Grand Port is over, the Minister is duty-bound to celebrate the presence of the Indians and their descendants in the country. Pray do tell us where the celebrations will take place, when and what resources are being put in for such celebrations. Unless you were to say that the Battle of Grand Port, which was fought between two powers, the French and the English of those days, is more important for the majority of the population of Mauritius in these present days!

Do tell us, if you have the will.

* Published in print edition on 5 September 2010

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