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Thursday, Jun 17, 2021

Who loses in Hong Kong politics over overseas-trained doctors?

Who loses in Hong Kong politics over overseas-trained doctors?

The elderly and the chronically ill will suffer more amid a persistent doctor shortage, yet another dubious distinction for Hong Kong as a global metropolis.

Sadly, the debate surrounding the accreditation of overseas-trained medical practitioners has been politicised in the Hong Kong of 2021, after the tumultuous anti-government movement of 2019 and Beijing’s subsequent introduction of the national security law in 2020.

Hong Kong’s medical sector, from my layman’s point of view, is complacent and ethnocentric. Ethnocentrism is the mindset that one’s culture is superior to all others and should serve as a benchmark for judging others. The crux of the current stalemate is how the government defines the term “overseas” – does it include mainland China?

Indeed, Hong Kong residents are worried about the quality of health care should Chinese-trained doctors be included in the scheme, as they have been bombarded 24/7 by the negative messages from the news media about medical accidents or even tragedies on the mainland. Yet, medical accidents happen around the globe, whether in the developed West or in the underdeveloped South, and even in Hong Kong.

Under proposed guidelines, doctors hoping to practise in Hong Kong must register with the Medical Council and be subject to the same disciplinary regulations as locally trained doctors. Given the personnel crunch in the public health care system, patients who are less-well-off and therefore cannot afford the premiums of self-funded medical insurance packages have been the collateral damage.

Moreover, the fast-ageing population of Hong Kong has rung alarm bells among the government, the citizenry, and the medical sector as a whole. The queue for health care services is only expected to grow. Chronically ill patients might well face a grim fate, not because of underdeveloped medical technology, but because of inadequate manpower.

That would be yet another dubious distinction for Hong Kong as a global metropolis, following our ever-soaring housing costs that push our youth out of the city and the elderly out of their subdivided flats.


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