Medical backwater

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 May, 1998, 12:00am

For an international city, it is stunning that Hong Kong is becoming a closed shop in medicine (report headlined, 'Exam for overseas specialists attacked', South China Morning Post, May 1).

As an example, the chief of neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School couldn't practise his specialty here without taking a written exam (with a seven per cent pass rate), an oral exam, repeating a year of internship, and then passing a local specialty exam. Which overseas-trained doctor would go through all of that? Hong Kong could be the prime health care centre of Asia, generating many high-paying service jobs. Instead, it is slowly becoming an insulated medical backwater. It is a special irony that, unlike legal and accounting systems which differ throughout the world, people are physiologically the same everywhere.

Who loses? Everyone in Hong Kong who gets sick - which is all of us - who will have fewer doctors of lesser training to choose from. A matter of life and death? For some, it will be.