"I believe in a country where hard work and merit, not privilege or background, determines success."
Tony Blair 2005

Monday, June 18, 2007


An inspiring true story about an experimental treatment of "encephalitis lethargica" with L-Dopa, a newly discovered drug at that time. The setting was in the 1960s and many of the patients with the above condition, were left in a catatonic state after a mysterious illness swept through in the 1920s. The administration of L dopa to these patients triggered a miraculous "cure" and many of them were brought back to "life".

Unfortunately, as we know now, chronic L dopa administration has its long term side effects which were brilliantly acted out by Robert De Niro, playing a patient by the name of Leonard Lowe, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for this role. After a successful result, he began to experience freezing, dyskinetic movements and eventually dose failure. Despite an initial dramatic result, this effect was never reproduced, likely due to downregulation of the dopamine receptors.

This story parallels many of the dilemmas in treating Parkinson's disease. L dopa is now reserved for use after treatment failure, or to complement other anti-parkinsonian drugs. Their side effects remain a stumbling block to an otherwise apparently straight forward "cure" for Parkinson's Disease.

It did however, highlight the fact that many of us take for granted the simplest of things. Things that would almost be impossible for those less fortunate. Perhaps then we should be thankful that we are able to get up on Monday mornings and travel to work, despite all the perceived stresses that we so often dread.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Just or unjust system

Many reservations have been voiced with regards to the Government's plan to implement a common qualifying examination for all medical graduates from foreign medical schools. Many of these reservations stem from the fact that examinations conducted locally have often been plagued by dubious processes. Many just do not have the confidence that such a qualifying examination can be conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

The Certificate of Legal Practice is one such example concerning new lawyers where the failure rates are extremely high. Are our standard of legal practice much higher than that of other nations?

Perhaps there is a need to improve the image of local establishments where the academia should maintain a high standard of educational ethics. Leaking out of questions or clinical cases for examinations have unfortunately been rife although much of these allegations hinge on circumstantial rather than any concrete evidence.

Although recent collaborations between local universities has its noble intentions, it is often plagued by unfair competition and favouritism. Afterall, these universities are in perpetual competition to prove that one is better than the other. I would be happier to see an independant body conducting the examinations rather than the universities themselves.

What the system should aim to achieve is to attract talents onto our shores and not install a facade of competence by redefining standards.

A better way to test new doctors ( malaysiakini.com )
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