Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ceritera 233

When or should Malaysian doctors give up their role in dispensing medications?

The short answer to this, is ‘NO’, not yet anyway. In my view, I think we are still far from yielding our rights to dispensing medicines and therefore separate prescription from dispensing. I urge the Minister of Health to seriously avoid making any arbitrary and hurried action with regards this contentious issue. This viewpoint persists despite our continuing dialogue with the MPS and their continuing lobbying for such a move.

Perhaps the most important reason against such a move is the fact that our citizens have yet to learn the difference between what it means to be a doctor and what the pharmacist’s role is. For too long, our rakyat have come to assume that consulting with a doctor for a health ailment meant being accompanied by some given medicines for the healing process—no medicines, no charge, many still feel and expect.

That the patient-doctor consultation process is a professional exercise is rarely accepted as a means of fair remuneration for the doctor, although increasingly more and more are accepting specialist visits as such. Thus, the recognition of appropriate fees for professional consultation must be made aware of and inculcated into the public mindset.

Furthermore, pharmacists too are professionals, and are not merely dispensers of drugs and medicines, nor convenient suppliers of health and beauty products! They too have professional duties, which command more than the simplistic view that their tasks are simply to dish out cheaper discountable medicines and free drug advice!

We need to continue to educate our patients and our rakyat that both doctors and pharmacists are professionals who are expensively and extensively trained for specific tasks at helping patients obtain the best healthcare advice and experience. Until such time, patients and our rakyat cannot abdicate their personal duty and opt for the simplest way out.

Purchasing medicines without prescription or reviews at doctor visits, is dangerous and self-defeating in the long term, and may even be catastrophic. The public must recognised that most scheduled medications should be used correctly and must be supervised and monitored by their doctors; this step cannot be dispensed with, just for saving a few dollars!

Our continuing professionalism demands that we expose such wrongful illegitimate activities, so that together both doctors and pharmacists can further enhance their roles up a few notches. We need to re-educate our rakyat that doctors and pharmacists are not just medication dispensers! Cost and convenience considerations while important should be better managed and understood by all.

Interview with Dr. David K. L. Quek, President of Malaysian Medical Society (MMA)

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