Doctors must join hands to have stronger voice

I have been a life member of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) since 1998.

Over the years, the membership has not grown much, certainly not in keeping pace with the increase in the number of doctors in the country.

MMA membership is just over 10,000 while the latest doctors’ registration is way over 70,000!

Despite this, MMA is the largest medical association representing doctors in the public service and private sector.

I remember, in my acceptance speech 20 years ago as the Sabah MMA branch chairman, I said: “Ask not what MMA can do for you but what you can do for MMA.”

Two decades later, many doctors are still asking the first question, “What can MMA do for me?” but very few ask the second question “What can I do for MMA and other doctors?”

I guess it’s just human nature and doctors are humans too!

MMA cannot do anything for anybody or any doctor for that matter as the association is only a platform for doctors to voice out areas of concern or advance the cause of the fraternity.

It is the elected executive committee and various other committees with MMA who will then highlight these issues or those of public interest.

It must be noted that the elected representatives do it voluntarily and many hold on to the belief that only through a national association, issues can be advocated, raised and to a certain extent, solved.

Almost all of the MMA executive committee members have fulltime jobs, so MMA in essence is really an association of doctors helping doctors, doctors supporting each other.

No one is paid for anything other than perhaps getting the satisfaction that together we have a much stronger voice. By being together, sometimes the impossible may be possible and together we may fight for better working conditions and future for everyone.

Sometimes doctors get frustrated and complain that nothing is achieved or sometimes we seem to be worse off than before.

That is true on some occasions but certainly not due to lack of trying. We can’t win all battles.

Everyone at MMA comes and goes. Sometimes more can be done and sometimes it seems we are just hitting our heads against a concrete wall. But what’s important is that we try.

It’s not an all or nothing phenomenon and over the years, the progress made is the result of the many failures in the past.

It’s the shoulders of giants that came before us where we are standing that allows us to look beyond the horizon and push for higher goals.

If we never try, we will never know and sometimes it’s the little things that we do that allow for big change.

Some doctors still believe it doesn’t matter whether they join MMA or not as it really doesn’t affect them much.

If you then look at the many issues affecting doctors – from contract doctors issue in the government service to the myriad of regulations in the private sector, where else can we still voice our concerns or even try to change the course of things if not to a national association representing doctors?

Surely, one doctor alone or one voice would be ignored by the decision makers but together, the voice and strength grows louder and forceful.

So if you plan to be a doctor for most of your career be it in the public service or the private sector, wouldn’t it make sense that our voices are represented?

If we are there for each other, wouldn’t we be all better off?

Isn’t it just simple logic?

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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