THE Government through the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Medical Board, Health department and School of Medicine and Health Sciences should visit countries where our students are studying medicine.
These universities should then be affiliates of our government-run School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Fiji once trained our doctors and dentists and they are serving well in PNG.
Medical Board exam is one thing but day one basic clinical hands-on experience is another thing altogether.
An Irish doctor recently told me: “Your doctors are some of the clinically competent doctors in the world despite the lack of sophisticated medical equipment, instruments and accessories. I am glad I had a privilege working with some of them here in Papua New Guinea.”
Having said this, SMHS is getting East Timor and Fiji MBBS graduates to do post-graduate studies. They have succeeded.
Before coming to work in PNG, they had fulfilled the requirements to be clinically competent in their country.
Now, Goroka University is planning to set up a medical school. The Highlands Pacific University, in Ialibu, is planning one too. Divine Word University has started.
All these must get assistance from the School of Medicine and Health Science and its curriculum and clinical-training modules must be similar to the old medical school or even better.
On this note, the Defence Force has sent four candidates to China to study medicine. One has graduated and returned, but this person cannot do residency now because of the registration dilemma. She was commissioned by the PNGDF.
Our doctor-to-population ratio is 1:17,000. With the population growth rate at 3.3 per cent, this gap will widen if we keep sleeping on it.
GoPNG must also assist SMHS and make it a standalone university.
Funding constraints to the medical school is making life difficult for the SMHS campus.
While the first world and technologically advanced countries are far advanced in research and innovations, it does not necessarily mean that an MBBS graduate coming out of these countries will see and treatt patients straightaway.
In some of the universities overseas, the MBBS programme is purely a textbook, seminar, lecture, tutorial, assignment, CD and visual learning curriculum with little or no clinical experience involving patient exposure.
You cannot get such candidates to come and do residency programmes in PNG straightaway.
It is better for those candidates to do residency programmes in those countries and get them clinically competent before they come here.
Our consultants and doctors are overworked and do not have the time to do clinical orientation and up-skilling work for these undergraduate from overseas.
Having said this, yes PNG needs doctors but we must be very careful and diligent in our approach.
Dr James Naipao
National Doctors’ Association