After finally succumbing to the winter chills yesterday, I got to thinking about the New Zealand health system.
All across the country, communities are facing escalating GP shortages.With an aging population, a reluctance of GP’s to relocate to rural areas and increasing migrant communities, action is required on this issue – and a solution lies right under our noses.
There are a vast number of migrant doctors in New Zealand who cannot practice here due to various reasons.
It is important at this time, when our health professionals are stretched thinly across the nation, that we make use of this wonderful resource.
The North Shore Chinese Community recognised this in 2006 and organised a panel discussion on the issue.
The conclusion reached was that many illnesses can be prevented or cured by way of a proper and early diagnosis. One solution touted was a ‘diagnosis detection centre’.
This would be the ideal platform for migrant doctors (doctors who are yet to be qualified in New Zealand) to assist in providing diagnosis services.
That way they can ease the pressure on GP’s and hospitals while also gaining an insight and transition into the New Zealand health system.
This could form part of a ‘bridging’ programme, which will enable these migrant doctors to eventually practice in New Zealand.
Annual ‘diagnosis detection’ checkups are common in China, Japan and South Korea, where they save the health system millions of dollars, and hundreds of lives, through early detection and cure of many illnesses.
Another cost-effective way is for Tertiary Institutes to offer programmes for migrant doctors to hone their English and medical skills. These programmes would prepare the doctors to qualify and practice in New Zealand.
Creating a pathway for migrant doctors to practice in New Zealand will not only ease the dire doctor shortage, but will also satisfy the medical needs of our migrant communities.