Fundamental lifestyle changes can help ease doctor shortage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 5:48pm

A study from the University of Hong Kong in March revealed that the shortage of doctors would not be eased until 2020.

I agree with the plan to increase the number of graduates from our two medical schools from 250 last year to 420 by 2018. This is certainly positive because, as the study points out, public hospitals will require some 6,200 doctors by 2041 to maintain the level of service enjoyed now.

The Hospital Authority will also have to provide more beds to meet the needs of a growing population.

Increasing the number of openings at the HKU and Chinese University faculties of medicine offers a partial solution to the shortage problem, but it is not the best one.

There is also the possibility of opening a new medical school, but then we could end up with a surplus of graduates and have new doctors who were out of work.

Superficial policies are not advisable. We need to come up with a long-term strategy and treat the core of the problem.

I think what is needed is for various stakeholders to work together, such as the government and schools.

They need to promote healthy lifestyles among Hong Kong citizens based on the principle that prevention is better than a cure. So many illnesses can be prevented if people make healthy lifestyle choices.

Information needs to be made readily available on how to choose healthy options.

For example, you have a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes if you eat less sugar and exercise more.

It is necessary to educate the public about the harm they can do to themselves and how lifestyle changes can help them. If more citizens take care of their health through better diets and regular exercise, we will see fewer patient having to make appointments to see a doctor.

Demand will drop as will pressure on public health services and the problem of a shortage of doctors will be solved.

I do back increasing the number of medical graduates, but it is also important to teach the public about how they can ensure they lead healthier lives and reduce the risk of contracting diseases.

Matilda Wong, Tuen Mun