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[Editorial] The time for better medical services

Posted November. 12, 2000 21:00,   


Hiked bus transit fares should mean better service for bus passengers. Likewise, increased expenses for people's medicare ought also to mean the delivery of better health services. This should be the priority agenda to undertake after the government, physicians and chemists agreed to again amend the revised Pharmaceutical Law.

Whatever the causes for the revision, the medical community must do all it can as its professional duties obligate it to improve the people's health and medical care. This is particularly so in view of the enormous social chaos, pains and inconvenience it caused the people due to doctors' collective walkouts, shutdowns of their clinics and suspension of their practice on four occasions since last June.

Granted, the medical community is not solely responsible for the medical strikes. The government must assume the greater responsibility, because it implemented the new system without adequate preparations to enforce the separation of professional roles between doctors and pharmacists. Pharmacists, too, must assume their due responsibilities here for their failure to abandon their long accustomed discretionary dispensation of medicines.

The medical community has invariably protested against the new system on the ground that the new practice is far too inadequate to protect people's health and, thus, it argued for better measures of the separation of doctors' practice from pharmacists over the use of drugs. If so, doctors must now be able to demonstrate their professed concern for the better protection of people's health as to produce some tangible results from the medical reforms. They must do this by taking more responsibility upon themselves for any failures instead of trying to pass the blame to others.

The government, physicians, and chemists should do all they can to avoid any possible dire circumstances from overturning their hard-won agreement again this time during the process of obtaining their internal consent, as there are already some voices of dissent from some doctors with private clinics who argue for discretionary participation in the new practice. Resident doctors, too, are known to have complaints against uncertainties of the state's assistance for the medical insurance reimbursements.

The agreements by the representatives of the medical community must not be overturned this time again by its members. The new agreement must end strikes by medical and pharmaceutical students to boycott their classes. Resident doctors must return to their hospitals.

In fact, the people who are consumers of medical services were the only party that was not able to reflect its voice over the new agreement of the government, physicians and chemists. Yet, they are the ones who will meet all the financial burdens of the new measures. A large increase in the nation's medicare services is also expected next year.

It may be inevitable to hike medicare expenses if we are going to improve our backward medical system and have medical services comparable to advanced nations. But, improved medical services must follow the increased expenses to be accepted by the people.

The government must insure the implementation of its newly agreed system by checking all the necessary details of the practice to separate the professional roles between doctors and pharmacists over the use of drugs. In particular, exceptional applications of new practice for handicapped old patients and children must be given clear directions at the earliest possible time so as to avoid any confusion.

It is imperative that the medical community wins the confidence of its consumers by transparent management of its hospitals. Also, it should stop such bad practices as excessive and unnecessary diagnosis to pad its medical bills as well as any rebates or so-called ``landing fees'' which drug companies pay to a hospital to strike deals to supply their drugs to the institution. Pharmacists, in turn, must stop the discretionary dispensation of medicine as well as medical diagnosis. All in all, it remains uncertain whether the new agreement between doctors, chemists and the government will be honored without fail this time.